Madeleine McCann's parents left boot of hired car open for several days to get rid of 'strange smell', claims former case detective

In 2008, two members of the McCann family, both of whom had driven the car, told British law enforcement the odor was simply due to dirty nappies in trash bags as well as juices that had leaked from beef and shrimp the family had purchased from a local store.


                            Madeleine McCann's parents left boot of hired car open for several days to get rid of 'strange smell', claims former case detective

According to a Portuguese detective who led the original investigation into the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann, a lawyer who lived next to parents Kate and Gerry McCann's villa in Praia da Luz told authorities she found it strange that the boot of their rental car was left open day and night for several days.

Goncalo Amaral told producers of Maddie, nine.com.au's podcast investigation into the mystery, that there was a strange and unpleasant smell inside the hired car - a silver Renault Scenic hatchback, nine.com.au reports.

In 2008, two members of the McCann family, both of whom had driven the car, later told British law enforcement the odor was simply due to dirty nappies in trash bags as well as juices that had leaked from beef and shrimp the family had purchased from a local store.

Kate and Gerry McCann the parents of missing four-year-old Madeleine McCann arrive at Faro airport by car to board an Easyjet plane back to England on September 9, 2007, in Faro, Portugal. (Getty Images)

Police learned that one of them had later removed the carpet from the boot compartment in order to scrub it clean.

Amaral detailed in episode nine of the podcast investigation that a woman had approached Portuguese authorities to explain how she had observed the boot was left open for several days on end.

"Nobody denied that the car boot had been always open, they said it was because of the smell of garbage," Amaral said. "They said it was domestic garbage that was transported in the car boot."

Amaral claimed during an interview two weeks ago that a German pedophile was being targeted by Operation Grange, the UK police investigation into Madeleine's disappearance, as the man who abducted the girl. However, Amaral said the German was only a "scapegoat" to shift the focus from the real culprit. 

On  May 3, the 12th anniversary of Maddie's disappearance, news broke that a foreign pedophile was a new suspect in the case, raising speculation whether that person is the man Amaral was talking about. That said, the car hired by the McCann family for four months became the focal point of the police probe in August 2007.

At the time, two specialist sniffer dogs alerted their handlers in and around the vehicle. However, DNA samples recovered from the car were ruled inconclusive by a team of forensic experts in Britain. In April 2008, Alexander Cameron, who was married to Gerry's sister Patricia at the time, told British police that the unpleasant stench came from blood which had leaked from fish, beef, and shrimp he purchased from a store and placed in the boot of the vehicle.

On the other hand, Michael Wright, the other driver of the car who was married to Kate's cousin, told UK police the strong smell could have come from nappies placed inside rubbish bags that were carried in the boot of the Renault Scenic.

Now, Dr Perlin, chief scientist at Cybergenetics, a renowned laboratory in Pittsburgh, US,  has sent a formal pro bono offer to detectives at Operation Grange to analyse that particular set of DNA samples, which had all been ruled "inconclusive", "too meagre" and "weak" by UK scientists during the original 14-month Portuguese police investigation.

Nonetheless, Madeleine is still missing since she disappeared during a family holiday in Portugal in April 2007.

On the sixth night of their holiday, Kate and Gerry allegedly left Madeleine and their two children alone in their bedroom while they ate dinner at a nearby restaurant.

According to the parents, an intruder, most likely a pedophile or child trafficker, had been watching their apartment and saw an opportunity to abduct Madeleine while they were out.

Kate and Gerry McCann leave the Church of St Mary and St John in their Leicestershire home town of Rothley after a prayer service to mark one year since their daughter Madeleine disappeared on May 3, 2008, near Leicester, England. (Getty)

The McCanns have since repeatedly denied their involvement in the mysterious disappearance of their daughter.

So far, both Portuguese and British authorities have failed to find the missing girl or arrest any suspects despite conducting huge investigations.

If Madeleine is still alive, she would turn 16 in May this year.