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There's a new suspect in the Madeleine McCann investigation. But it's not who we thought.

On May 3, 2007, Madeleine McCann vanished from her bed while on holiday with her family in Portugal.

The British toddler, who was just three years old at the time, was sleeping in her family’s holiday apartment with her twin siblings, while her parents dined at a restaurant with friends in the same apartment complex.

When Madeleine’s mother, Kate McCann, checked in on her children during the night, she discovered that Madeleine was gone.

Here is the trailer from the eight-part Netflix documentary released this year into the case of Madeleine McCann. Post continues after video.

In the 12 years since Madeleine McCann went missing, theories and rumours have swirled around who may have been behind the disappearance.

Earlier this week, just after the 12th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance, a new key “masked man” suspect emerged in the investigation.

At the time, many media outlets reported that the suspect may have been convicted German paedophile Martin Nev, as he was believed to fit the description of a man acting suspiciously in the hours before Madeleine disappeared in 2007.

But while it was widely reported that Ney, who was jailed for life in 2012 for murdering three children and sexually abusing dozens more, was being questioned by police in line with the case – the claims have since been disputed.

According to Portugese news organisation Correio da Manha, Martin Nev is not the new suspect in the Madeleine McCann investigation.

Martin Ney. Image: Twitter.

"A German paedophile, serving life for the murder of three children and the sexual abuse of dozens more youngsters, was named by the British press as a Madeleine McCann suspect," the report said.

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"However this is not the new suspect that the Policia Judiciaria in Porto is investigating."

According to a spokesperson for the McCann family, however, Ney had previously been questioned by police over Madeleine's disappearance.

At the time, he denied abducting her.

"It might be him and he fits the profile, he is a known predatory paedophile and he’s a foreigner," spokesperson Clarence Mitchell told MailOnline. "It is quite possible and plausible police are looking at him again but it could be someone else."

"Ney has been previously interviewed by detectives over Madeleine’s abduction, and denied it. He is in a German jail now."

Mamamia's daily news podcast The Quicky investigate the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Post continues after audio.

Speaking to The Mirror, a source who worked at the Ocean Club resort where Madeleine had vanished from admitted that they had spotted Ney in a local supermarket in Portugal around the same time the McCann family were staying there.

Ney, a former youth worker, would dress in black and don masks while carrying out his attacks.

Newly-released Netflix documentary series, The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, featured a suspect who targeted British holidaymakers’ apartments in Praia da Luz in 2007, which seemed to match Ney's profile.

The man portrayed in the series had an accent, and preyed on children while wearing a surgical mask. When one girl woke up and asked if he was her daddy, he replied: "Yes".

During the 1990s, Ney travelled widely throughout Portugal.

He was jailed for killing three German children – Stefan Jahr, 13, in 1992, Dennis Rostel, eight, in 1995, and Dennis Klein, nine, in 2001.

Madeleine McCann evidence
Gerry and Kate McCann have fought tirelessly over the last 12 years to find their daughter. Image: Getty

He is also suspected of the murder of a child in Holland in 1998 and another in France in 2004.

The timings raise the possibility that Ney murdered a child every three years – 1992, 1995, 1998, 2001 and 2004, before Madeleine vanished in May 2007.

As Madeleine's 16th birthday approaches on May 12, her parents Kate and Gerry have pledged to never stop searching for their missing daughter.

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