MADELEINE McCann suspect Raymond Hewlett confessed on his deathbed that he KNEW what happened to the little girl, The Sun can reveal.
In a letter to his estranged son Wayne, he denied having anything to do with Maddie's disappearance.
But he said he knew she had been stolen to order by a gipsy gang who kidnap children for wealthy couples unable to have kids or adopt.
Now, consider these wealthy couples who are unable to have kids or adopt: too old to adopt? What other reasons might there be? And wouldn't these wealthy couples want a very young child who would adjust easily to a new environment?
Madeleine McCann was nearly four years old and therefore cognitively mature enough to have a good vocabulary, good communication skills and the developmental level of memory to recall where she came from. Amelie, on the other hand, was two years and three months old, also a blonde child, but, as her parents pointed out when asked if the twins might be able to talk about what had happened to Madeleine, she did not have the necessary verbal skills. So, if one of those wealthy couples had 'ordered,' a small, blonde child, why not take Amelie, who would surely have adjusted more readily to a new environment?
We are to believe that Madeleine McCann was stolen by a 'gipsy gang,' for one of these wealthy couples. Does this mean that we are also to accept that not one person associated with this gipsy gang was tempted by the huge reward on offer for Madeleine's safe return?
Hewlett, a serial paedophile seen near the spot where Maddie was snatched in Portugal, said they had a "shopping list" of potential targets - such as a little girl with blonde hair like Maddie.
Private detectives working for Maddie's parents Kate and Gerry are "extremely interested" in Hewlett's claims.
A source close to their ongoing investigation said: "What he says fits the No1 theory, which is that she was stolen to order."
And what of this wealthy couple now? They have the world's most famous missing child, but they must keep her hidden, never send her to school, never take her out in public in case she inadvertently says something, mistrust everyone they know who might be tempted by a huge reward. But, this does fit neatly into Gerry McCann's oft repeated mantra about Madeleine's not having come to harm. She has been stolen to order for a wealthy couple who really wanted a child of their own. Yea right!
The 'No1 theory.'? Whose number one theory? Not that of the Portuguese police or indeed the English police who were part of the original investigation. Only the McCanns and their friends and relations seem to hold to this as their number one theory.
Hewlett died of throat cancer in April, aged 62, after persistently refusing to meet the McCanns' detectives.
He became a suspect because of his appalling record of rape and abduction of children.
And he was living as a nomad in Portugal with his second family when Maddie vanished from the McCanns' holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in May 2007.
Hewlett's letter to builder Wayne, 40, was delivered to the son by a mystery man - thought to be a solicitor or a private eye - a week after he died.
Most of it was an apology for how his vile crimes had affected his first wife Susan and Wayne.
But then he went on to write about Maddie, who was nearly four when she went missing.
Wayne, of Telford, Shropshire, said: "It was a bolt from the blue and I shook when I read it.
"He stated he didn't want to go to his grave with us thinking he had done such a horrible thing.
"He said he had had nothing to do with taking Maddie but did know who had.
"He said a very good gipsy friend he knew in Portugal had got drunk and 'let it out' that he had stolen Maddie to order as part of a gang.
"My dad said this gang had been operating for a long time and had snatched children before for couples who couldn't have children of their own.
"Maddie had been targeted. They took photos of children and sent them to the people they were acting for. And they said Yes or No.
"Dad said the man told him it was nothing to do with snatching children for a paedophile gang or for a sexual reason.
"He said there were huge sums of money involved. And he totally believed what this man was saying."
The account fits with others surrounding the Maddie mystery.
Several strange men were seen taking photos of children around the Ocean Club resort in the days before she vanished. And The Sun revealed earlier this year that a British expat thought he had seen Maddie in a white van driven by a gipsy couple the day after she was lost.
'Several strange men were seen taking photos of children around the Ocean Club resort in the days before she vanished.' Ahem! It's a holiday resort and I expect there were lots of men, who probably were not in the least bit strange, taking photos of their own children. That's what people do on holiday, though not the McCanns, judging by the number of photos they appear to have taken of Madeleine during her holiday in Praia da Luz.
Wayne, who had no contact with Hewlett for nearly 20 years, said his father's letter seemed "very genuine".
He added: "I don't know if this is what happened to Maddie or not, but it does make sense. I can't believe he'd go to those lengths to make up some elaborate lie when he was so weak and ill."
Wayne said he considered going to Kate and Gerry with the letter but was worried it could cause them more heartache if it gave them false hope. He added: "I actually burned it because it unnerved me so much.
So, Wayne Hewlett burned a letter that at least a few tabloids would have entered a bidding war to get their hands on? Yea right! How very convenient!
"To have a letter from someone you hated for so long was just mind-blowing. I couldn't deal with it."
Wayne did not contact The Sun about the message. We learned of its existence through a friend.
But now he intends to sit down with the Maddie detectives to tell them everything he knows.
The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said last night: "We are extremely grateful to Wayne for coming forward with this information and the detective team will be interviewing him as a matter of priority."
And what might this detective team do once they have interviewed Wayne Hewlett, the man who burned a letter about the world's most famous missing child? Well, if Maddie is with a wealthy couple, she's probably not in a 'hellish lair,' in one of those, 'lawless villages,' near Praia da Luz that the detectives didn't get round to visiting and Kate and Gerry managed to avoid when they last visited the area.
This is all very convenient: Raymond Hewlett is dead and can therefore neither confirm nor deny having written the letter and Madeleine has been stolen to order for a wealthy couple who really wanted a child, so she will not have come to harm. This gipsy gang had been watching, taking photographs and waiting for that very small window of opportunity when, by sheer coincidence, Jane Tanner just happened to be in the right place at the right time to be able to see the paid abductor making off with a child in Maddie's pyjamas! Yea right!
There must be easier ways to abduct a child.