Student journalist leads police to Madeleine McCann FBI fraud suspect hiding in Oxford hotel

Nov 26 2009
Liverpool Daily Post
Luke Traynor

This is the Oxford University graduate who helped to snare a high-profile on-the-run alleged fraudster.

Businessman Kevin Halligen was arrested at the city’s Old Bank Hotel on Tuesday, following several months evading police. The 48-year-old was hired by Liverpool-born Kate McCann and her husband, Gerry, to find their three-year-old daughter, Maddie, who disappeared from a flat in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in 2007. But, after £500,000 was pocketed by him from the Find Madeleine Fund, his contract was cancelled after he had delivered precious little to the investigation.

Yesterday, it emerged that journalism student Christopher Winsley was instrumental in finding Halligen, wanted by the FBI for an alleged £1.3m con in America. Christopher had worked part-time at the plush Old Bank Hotel during the summer when studying at Brookes College when Halligen was almost a permanent guest, hardly ever leaving the £350-a-night-room 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 Thames Valley Police.

Yesterday, the student said: “I knew straight away the person I was reading in the papers, said to be wanted by police, was the man I’d seen day-in, day-out at the hotel. “I telephoned police, and it didn’t seem to be a priority for them, but they appear to have moved fast and caught up with him. “It wasn’t hard to make the link. I even sent an email to the US embassy and phoned 999 and Crimestoppers. I’m surprised he didn’t do a runner with all the stuff in the newspapers.”

Halligen is also said to have caused consternation in the hotel, visited this year by celebrities including Meg Ryan over unpaid bills. Following a short hearing at court yesterday, Halligen was refused bail and was remanded in custody until December 2.

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