How I spotted Maddie fraud suspect at hotel

NOV 26, 2009
Liverpool Echo
Luke Traynor

Student recognised man wanted by cops
An Oxford university graduate helped to snare a high-profile on-the-run alleged fraudster hired to find missing toddler Madeleine McCann. Businessman Kevin Halligen was arrested at Oxford's Old Bank Hotel on Tuesday following several months evading police.

The 48-year-old was hired by Liverpool-born Kate and Gerry McCann to find their three-year-old daughter, who disappeared from a flat in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in 2007. But after he was paid £500,000 from the Find Madeleine Fund, his contract was cancelled after he had delivered precious little to the investigation.

Journalism student Christopher Winsley was instrumental in finding Halligen, wanted by the FBI for an alleged £1.3m con in the USA. He worked part-time at the plush Old Bank Hotel during the summer, while studying at Brookes College, when Halligen was almost a permanent guest, hardly ever leaving his £350-a-night-room at the hotel and drinking heavily in the bar.

The Dubliner used various aliases, including Mr and Mrs Hall, Kev and Richard, before Mr Winsley left in September to pursue a postgraduate media degree in Falmouth, Cornwall. When he spotted several Sunday newspaper articles on Halligen last weekend, and his all-important photograph, he immediately made the connection and telephoned police.

Today, the student told the ECHO: "I knew straight away the person I was reading about in the papers, said to be wanted by police, was the man I had seen day-in, day-out. "It was not hard to make the link. I even sent an email to the US embassy and phoned 999. "I am surprised he did not do a runner with all the stuff in the newspapers."

An extradition hearing is likely to take place in London tomorrow.

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