Australian woman denies Madeleine McCann link


PRIVATE DETECTIVES investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, then aged four, in Portugal more than two years ago are looking to interview an Australian mother and daughter.

Madeleine went missing from an apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3rd, 2007 while her parents dined at a nearby restaurant.

It is alleged that three days later a woman in her 30s with an Australian or New Zealand accent asked a British businessman at Barcelona’s Port Olimpic marina if he was there to “deliver my new daughter”.

A yacht owned by the late Australian businessman Bill Wyllie was moored there at that time. Investigators hired by Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann hope to speak to Mr Wyllie’s widow Rhonda and their 31-year-old daughter Melissa Karlson (31).

A spokesman for the women said yesterday that although the yacht was in Spain at the time, neither woman was.

“Rhonda and Melissa are perplexed by the media coverage of the past 24 hours, especially given that neither of them was actually in Spain on the night in question,” he said.

Investigators last week released an identikit picture of the woman – described as a Victoria Beckham lookalike – who spoke to the British man in Barcelona three days after Madeleine disappeared.

Police in Australia have since received hundreds of calls about the case.

McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell told Australian television station Channel Nine yesterday that investigators have a “number of viable leads” on the woman.

“An awful lot of these tip-offs and bits of information are well meaning, but ultimately come to nothing,” he said. “But out of all this we have had dozens of names for the woman we’re looking for given to us . . . and out of that, the detectives have a number of viable leads.”

One of these leads was that a Sydney woman told police her friend in Melbourne could be the woman in Barcelona. Judith Aron, the woman concerned, says her friend has “got it wrong”.

“I’m 53 years old and I certainly don’t look like a Spice Girl . . . I have a five-year-old daughter myself so when I think of what they must be going through it is just awful,” she said.

A neighbour told Melbourne’s Sunday Age newspaper she thought the link might have been made because Ms Aron speaks Spanish and her daughter has fair hair.