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News in 5: New Maddie McCann theory; Bound body in Sydney park; Cristiano Ronaldo speaks.

-With AAP

1. Top detective shares new theory about what happened to Madeleine McCann.


A former top detective who worked on the Madeleine McCann disappearance believes she may still be alive and living in Portugal, unaware of who she is.

David Edgar was hired by Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry and worked on the case for three years.

Eleven years since the British toddler vanished from the family’s holiday villa in Praia da Luz, Edgar said he is convinced she is alive.

Madeleine would now be 15 years old.

“There is every possibility that Madeleine is still alive and could be being hidden somewhere and having no idea that she is at the centre of a worldwide hunt for her,” he told The Sun.

He believed she was snatched by a child sex gang and said it was most likely she was still in Portugal.

He said whoever is responsible will have confided in someone else and there are people out there who know what happened.

“The chance that she may have been smuggled out of the country without being detected is highly unlikely. There is someone in Portugal with an open knowledge of where she is and what happened,” he said.

“The best hope of a breakthrough, even after all this time, will be if and when someone’s conscience is pricked. It may be that the person responsible for Madeleine’s kidnap is dying and makes a deathbed confession, or someone close to that person comes forward after he or she has passed away.

“Or it could be that the abductor falls out with others who know and they finally decide to contact police.”

Scotland Yard has recently asked for about AU$270,000 from British taxpayers to fund their investigation, which has already spent more than AU$21 million.

In an emotional BBC Radio 4 interview on Saturday, Madeleine’s dad Gerry said he dreamed his daughter was still alive and one day they’d be reunited.

“I just want to hug her, to hold her, to cry – a lot. Never a day goes by when I don’t think of Madeleine.”

2. Woman’s body found with ‘collar around neck’ near Sydney children’s playground.

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Police are investigating the suspicious death of a woman, whose body was found near a children’s playground at a park in Sydney’s north.

The body was found in Buffalo Creek Reserve at Hunters Hill on Wednesday morning by a council worker.

Seven News reported from the crime scene that the woman’s partially naked body was found with her hands tied by packing tape and a collar around her neck.

There were also 20-metre long drag marks through garden beds and across pathways to her final location.

Police confirmed they are treating the woman’s death as suspicious and a post-mortem will determine a cause of death.

The victim is yet to be identified.

3. Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has denied raping a teacher in a US hotel room.

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Cristiano Ronaldo has denied rape allegations levelled against him, saying his conscience was clear and that he would calmly await the results of any investigation.

“I firmly deny the accusations being issued against me. Rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in,” the Juventus and Portugal superstar wrote in a tweet.

His agents Gestifute also sent the same statement by Ronaldo in an email to Reuters.

“Keen as I may be to clear my name, I refuse to feed the media spectacle created by people seeking to promote themselves at my expense.

“My clear conscience will thereby allow me to await with tranquillity the results of any and all investigations.”

Lawyers for teacher Kathryn Mayorga, who sued Ronaldo in a district court in Clark County, Nevada on Thursday, are due to give a news conference later on Wednesday about the case.

Mayorga is also seeking to void a $US375,000 settlement she alleges she was coerced into signing to keep quiet, according to the complaint seen by Reuters and according to Mayorga’s lawyer.

The lawsuit, which seeks more than $US200,000 in damages, names as defendants Ronaldo and an unnamed team of fixers described as “personal reputation protection specialists” hired to make the situation go away.

Lawyers for Ronaldo, one of the world’s best-known athletes, on Friday threatened to sue German magazine Der Spiegel that published “blatantly illegal” accusations by Mayorga.

Der Spiegel’s deputy editor-in-chief, Alfred Weinzierl, told Reuters on Sunday that the magazine had worked professionally, confronted and laid out the evidence and stood by its story, which it said was allowed under Germany’s press law.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police on Monday said an incident report with the number listed in Mayorga’s lawsuit was filed on the night of the alleged attack, and said the case was reopened last month.

They declined to say whether the athlete was the subject of an investigation.

There was no immediate comment from police on Ronaldo’s statement.

4. Mother-of-three allegedly killed in hit-run by car driven by her ex-husband.

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A man has been charged with murder after his ex-wife died in a fatal hit-run in Victoria’s Gippsland region.

Gayle Potter, a 46-year-old mother-of-three was killed when she was hit by a car outside her house on Tuesday night.

It is alleged her ex-husband Glenn Martyn was behind the wheel and drove off when paramedics tried to save her.

The driver allegedly left the scene but was arrested a short time later at a nearby property, and charged on Wednesday.

Friends told Seven News that Gayle was an extremely popular and dedicated mother who always wore a big smile.

5. Saxon Mullins, who was allegedly raped in Sydney, named most culturally powerful Australian of the year.

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The woman at the centre of a Sydney sex assault trial that sparked a fierce debate about consent has been named the most culturally powerful Australian of the year.

Saxon Mullins, who was allegedly raped by Sydney man Luke Lazarus in a Kings Cross laneway in 2013, topped the Australian Financial Review Magazine‘s Cultural Power List.

Ms Mullins, who has spoken publicly about the incident since Mr Lazarus was acquitted of the assault after spending almost a year in jail, has lead the Australian #MeToo movement, according to the AFR.

“The panel was looking for an Australian person who represents that movement,” AFR Magazine editor Matt Drummond told AAP.

“In thinking about who is the one particular woman who has been the most powerful, they agreed that Saxon Mullins is that person.”

The 23-year-old stepped into the spotlight in May, telling the ABC’s Four Corners about the impact the alleged assault had on her as an 18-year-old.

Mr Lazarus was convicted in 2015 and jailed for three years for raping Ms Mullins, but he was later cleared and his sentence overturned on appeal.

The appeal judge said the crown had not established there were reasonable grounds for believing Ms Mullins was not consenting to what happened to her.

Ms Mullins has spoken out on social media about NSW consent laws, with the AFR panel noting no one had personified the #MeToo movement as dramatically as her in Australia.

Second on the list was Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce for the role he played in the Australian marriage equality debate.

Meanwhile director and writer Tony Ayres was voted third.

Indigenous rights activist and Lowitja Institute chair Pat Anderson was placed fourth on the list, while wheelchair athletes Kurt Fearnley and Dylan Alcott were equal fifth.

AFL players Majak Daw and Aliir Aliir also made the list for their work representing the Australian African community during a tense debate on gangs in Melbourne.

“I think that sport is the actual engine room of cultural power in Australia,” Mr Drummond said.

“It’s the arena in which Australians have some pretty complex conversations.”

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