A friend of Christian Brueckner was convicted of sexual assault on an eight-year-old girl years after Brueckner ran a kiosk business in the same building where the assault took place.
Brueckner, the prime suspect in the disappearance of Madeline McCann, operated the kiosk between 2012 and 2014 while the man known as ‘Robert M’, aged around 15 at the time, lived in the same building and attended a nearby school.
On December 12 2019, Robert M, now ages 20, was sentenced to two years in prison by a German court for serious sexual abuse of the eight-year-old girl known as Jessica.
Now, as more information emerges about Brueckner – a link between the two cases has been drawn by German newspaper Bild, who have reported that the pair knew each other well while Brueckner ran the kiosk, and the then-teenager could have been influenced by Brueckner.
Pictured: The interior of the building where Christian Brueckner used to run a kiosk, and where ‘Robert M’, someone Brueckner used to know before leaving the area, abused an eight-year-old girl in the attic. Robert M was convicted in 2019
Pictured: A handout picture taken in 2018 and released by Italian Carabinieri on June 5, 2020 shows Christian Brueckner, when he was arrested for drug trafficking in Italy. It is believed that Brueckner knew ‘Robert M’, a 20-year-old who was convicted of sexual abuse of an eight-year-old girl in 2019, when Brueckner ran a kiosk in Braunschweig between 2012 and 2014
In February 2019, Robert M accosted an eight-year-old girl, as she returned home from school in the north-central city of Braunschweig (Brunswick).
Bild reports that he was waiting outside the apartment door, and when she arrived he spoke to her.
Robert M, 20, was known to her as he lived in a neighboring house, and he was able to lure her into the back yard before forcing her to go to the attic of the apartment building.
After the abuse, Jessica was able to free herself and managed to get home, and the man was later arrested and brought before a judge the following day.
In December, Robert M was sentenced to two years in prison by the Braunschweig Regional Court for serious sexual abuse.
Year earlier, between 2012 and 2014, Brueckner ran a small store in Braunschweig, and operated the store from the same building in which the incident with Robert M took place some five years later.
Brueckner ran a small store (pictured) selling drinks and snacks in the northern German town of Braunschweig between 2012 and 2014
‘Robrt M’ lived in the apartment above the Kiosk with his parents, and was convicted in 2019 of child sexual abuse after he lured an eight-year-old girl into the attic of the building
While working there, he would shower youngsters with toys and teddy bears as they walked to a school barely 100 yards from the kiosk.
It has since been revealed that Brueckner knew Robert M well during his time operating the kiosk.
At the time, the then-15-year-old lived with his parents in the apartment above the shop, according to Bild.
‘The boy was often with Christian downstairs, and could even write to him whenever he had no money. They liked each other,’ one neighbour told the German newspaper.
Neighbour Brigitte Szegedi, 56, said that Brueckner was friendly towards all the children in the neighbourhood, often handing out free gifts.
Because of this, his shop reportedly became a popular spot for children to meet, and one of the regulars was Robert M, who often came to visit Brueckner after school.
Brueckner (right) is the key suspect in the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine (left) from Praia da Luz, Portugal, in 2007 and is currently languishing in a German prison in Kiel on a drug-related sentence
The outside of Brueckner’s last-known address in Germany. At the time of Madeleine’s vanishing he was living in Portugal
Peter Erdmann, 64, who worked at the Grundschule Hohsteig, a primary school for around 300 children, said: ‘The kids would come to school holding ponies and teddy bears. I used to ask them where they got them from, and they used to tell me, “Christian at the kiosk gave it to us”.
‘He used to give the kids the presents when they walked past the kiosk in the morning.’
Mr Erdmann, who worked at the school between 1999 and 2016, added: ‘At the time, I did not think anything of it. I used to go and see Christian in the kiosk, and he always came across as friendly.
‘I even asked him if he gave gifts to the kids, and he told me he had a little box full in the kiosk.
‘It turns my stomach now to think of his intentions and I wish I had raised what was going on with my bosses at the time.’
Lenta Johlitz, 34, worked for him at the corner shop and told German newspaper Bild: ‘Once he totally lost it when we sat together with friends and had a conversation about the Maddie case.
‘He wanted us to stop talking about it. He shouted, “The child is dead now and that’s it”.’
Detectives believe Brueckner, the latest main suspect in the McCann case, was living out of a German campervan in 2007
Peter Erdmann, 64, (pictured) who worked at the Grundschule Hohsteig, a primary school for around 300 children, said: ‘The kids would come to school holding ponies and teddy bears. I used to ask them where they got them from, and they used to tell me, “Christian at the kiosk gave it to us”.’
At the same time, Brueckner was speaking to like-minded people on the internet about his twisted fantasies, with German news outlet Der Speigel reporting that he wanted to ‘capture something small and use it for days.’
When the person he was speaking to objected, he said ‘Oh, if the evidence is destroyed afterwards.’
German newspaper Bild speculated that Brueckner could have spoken to Robert M about his fantasies at the time, and that there could be a link between the pair’s crimes.
In 2014, Brueckner gave up his shop, and by 2015, there were several accusations against him. During this time he lived in a tent in Braunschweig, or in a campervan, but was reportedly seen by neighbours at his former shop.
According to Bild, public prosecutes have denied to say whether there is a connection between the two cases, but the newspaper has speculated that given their relationship, it’s possible Brueckner influenced Robert M that ultimately led to his abuse of Jessica.
Madeleine McCann prime suspect was ‘twisted loner’ at school, former classmate reveals – as police hunting ‘knockout’ clue put him on watch hoping he confesses to cellmate
Madeleine McCann‘s suspected murderer Christian Brueckner was a twisted loner who was hated by the other children at school, a former classmate has revealed.
The ex-classmate, who wants to remain anonymous, said Brueckner would spend his days annoying the other pupils and getting into fights.
He added that Brueckner was even hated by the teachers and he ‘knew he’d turn out bad’.
It comes as German police are thought to have put sex offender Brueckner, now 43, under surveillance in prison in the hope that he lets slip a ‘knockout’ clue to his cellmate.
Now, an ex-classmate has revealed how Brueckner was deeply unpopular at school, winding up and annoying his fellow pupils and even goading teachers before laughing in their faces.
The former pupil said: ‘I’ve only ever had one fight in my life and that was with Christian Brueckner.
‘He spent a year talking about me behind my back. He would not stop making nasty comments.
‘One day I exploded and told him to go back to the orphanage where he had come from.
‘We all knew he was adopted, so I shouldn’t have said that but I lost my temper with him.
‘He jumped on me and we traded punches until a teacher pulled us apart. Everyone hated him in class and they all kept their distance.
‘But it wasn’t just the children – it was the teachers as well.’
The former classmate, who is in his 40’s, said he knew Brueckner would end up a criminal but never guessed he would become involved in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance.
He added: ‘I always knew he would turn out bad but it is unbelievable to think he might he involved.’
Brueckner moved from Germany to Praia da Luz in 1995 after serving part of a two-year sentence for molesting a six-year-old girl in Wurzburg.
At the time of Madeleine’s vanishing he was living in the area about a 10-minute drive away.
British detectives believe Brueckner was living out of a battered VW T3 Westerfalia campervan in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance in 2007.
Former neighbours said he often slept in his van, which had a distinctive white upper body and yellow skirting.
A witness has claimed to have spotted Madeleine getting into a German-owned VW van with a man just weeks after her disappearance, it was revealed on June 7.
A police file details how the witness saw Madeleine emerging from a restaurant in the Spanish seaside town of Alcossebre before climbing into the van with an unidentified man.
According to the witness, Madeleine was seen at 11am on May 28, 2007 – three weeks after she vanished – coming out of popular local restaurant Tunnels in Alcossebre, some 600 miles from Praia da Luz.
At the time, Leicestershire Police Detective Constable John Hughes issued an international Interpol alert with a ‘risk to life missing person’ warning demanding that Spanish and German police investigate.
He urged Spanish police to check the location for CCTV and witnesses and asked for the German vehicle keeper details. It is unclear what checks were made.
The police report, issued as part of Operation Task, says: ‘A caller has reported a possible sighting of Madeleine McCann, 11am, 28th May 2007.
‘Location given as a restaurant called Tunnels, in an old castle at an area called Cap Y Corp, Alcossebre, Spain. She was seen to leave with a man in a Volkswagen van.
‘We request the Spanish police check the location for any CCTV or witnesses. We request German vehicle details. Can the vehicle be circulated for a stop and check to be carried out if seen.’
German police said there were indications that he could have used either the van or a Jaguar model XJR 6 with a German number plate to commit the crime and appealed for help tracking where they were parked.
Detectives say that the day after Madeleine’s disappearance, Brueckner re-registered the Jaguar in the name of Alexander Bischof, who lives in Augsburg, Germany, despite the vehicle never having left Portugal.
It also emerged that Brueckner sold the VW van for £5,000 in 2015 to a German compatriot running an unofficial scrapyard in the Silves area of the Algarve. Portuguese police officers seized the vehicle in 2019.
The owner of the yard said: ‘The police said they needed the van as part of the investigation. It was all very sudden – there had been nothing on the TV or in the papers about the case at that time.
‘I’m not sure I’d ever get it back, but if it turns out Christian had something to do with Madeleine’s disappearance, then I don’t want it back. It wouldn’t be right.’
Scotland Yard said Brueckner’s Volkswagen van had a Portuguese registration plate. It is not known whether he changed the registration plate at any time.
As part of the appeal for information, the Met Police said in a statement that the suspect had ‘access to this van from at least April 2007 until sometime after May 2007’.
It added: ‘We believe he was living in this van for days, possibly weeks, and may have been using it on 3 May 2007.
Following his naming by German police, he has been linked to the disappearances of six-year-old boy René Hasse in the Algarve, 1996, and five-year-old girl Igna Gehnricke in Germany, 2015.
In 2005, two years prior to the infant’s disappearance, he raped a 72-year-old American woman on a waterfront villa less than a mile from the Ocean Club hotel where Madeleine went missing.