Madeleine McCann: Suspect Christian B filmed during road trip five weeks before she disappeared

31 July 2020, 12:42 | Updated: 31 July 2020, 14:48

Madeleine McCann suspect Christian B was filmed driving his battered camper van on a bizarre road trip five weeks before the youngster disappeared.

The German drifter is seen laughing and joking and making a peace sign with three hitchhikers he picked up on the journey.

He was filmed at the wheel of the camper van and looking at a map and discussing their route, though the sound is poor quality.

One of his passengers, a young German called Tomas, said: "He seemed like any other ordinary young man. He was cheerful and joked a lot and happy to give us a ride in his VW van.

"He didn't mind us filming him and taking his pictures. He was happy to pose and must have known we could never suspect what a terrible man he really was."

The film, shot on an old camcorder, was obtained by Mailonline and is the first footage of Christian B to emerge.

He appears to be driving the distinctive white and yellow VW camper van featured by police in recent appeals for information about where the vehicle was around the time three-year-old Madeleine disappeared from her family's rented holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal on 3 May, 2007.

The footage was shot on 30 March that year as Christian B took part in a bizarre sponsored challenge to transport a caravan trailer from Portugal to Germany by hitching it to various trucks and vans along the route.

He picked up the German hitchhikers in Spain and they stayed with him for 175 miles before he dropped them off in Almeria.

His passengers also took photographs of each other with Christian B in various fun poses at stop-offs during the journey.

He was 30 at the time and already had convictions for child sex crimes, theft and forgery, and two years earlier had raped an elderly American woman in Portugal though he was only recently convicted of that attack.

Hitchhiker Tomas told Mailonline: "It is scary to know now that he was a rapist of an elderly woman and targeted children. We couldn't have known that he was such a monster in truth."

Christian B emerged as the main suspect for Madeleine's abduction three years ago and German prosecutors are trying to build a case against him in what they say is a murder investigation.

He is currently serving two sentences in a German jail for drugs supply and the rape of the American woman.

This week German police excavated a garden near Hanover, where the suspect once lived in a camper van, in the search for any evidence to link him to Madeleine's disappearance.

His lawyer Friedrich Sebastian Fulscher described the search as "a completely desperate act."