A convicted paedophile has ben arrested in connection with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
Roderick MacDonald, 77, was arrested on the Maltese island of Gozo after he fled the UK following his conviction for molesting two girls, five and seven, in Brighton in 2012.
Maddie has strong Donegal connections through her father Gerry and only visited here just weeks before she disappeared while on holiday with her parents.
Former oil worker MacDonald was reportedly living in the Algarve when Madeleine disappeared from the McCanns’ holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in May 2007, shortly before her fourth birthday.
The serial sex offender appeared in court in Malta on Monday after Britain secured a European Arrest Warrant and did not oppose immediate extradition to the UK.
MacDonald was first arrested at a campsite in the Algarve in 2010 and extradited to Australia – where he was wanted for the 1998 rape of an eight-year-old.
He received six months in prison after accepting a plea deal for indecently assaulting the child in Australia and fled to Thailand after he was released, but Thai authorities deported him back to Britain when they found out about his past.
He then settled in Brighton, East Sussex, but, despite being made to sign the Sex Offenders Register, was convicted of molesting two girls, five and seven in 2012.
He received a year-long sentence but it was suspended for two years. He changed his surname from Robinson to MacDonald and fled to the Far East soon after.
He was arrested in Malta on Monday and his extradition to Britain – to which he consented – was approved in court yesterday.
Magistrate Audrey Demicoli heard the case and inspector Mario Cuschieri prosecuted.
Scotland Yard said they would not give a ‘running commentary’ on the Madeleine investigation.
Madeleine was aged three when she went missing on May 3, 2007, from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, as her parents Kate and Gerry dined at a nearby tapas restaurant.