But now, there have been two independent sightings of Madeleine in Marakesh, Morocco. Could Maddie still be alive?
A SECOND witness told police he ALSO spotted missing tot Madeleine McCann in MOROCCO, the News of the World can reveal.
A British man saw a young girl closely resembling four-year-old Madeleine in Marrakech, just YARDS from where she was sighted the same day. And his account was made BEFORE news of the strikingly similar report by Norwegian Mari Pollard became public — and will renew pressure for a fuller search for the lost toddler in Morocco.
Crucially, both sightings were in the same location in the city of Marrakech on May 9 — and at around the same time of day.
According to our source, he saw the girl alone, close to the Ibis hotel — just across the road from the petrol station where Mrs Pollard saw a girl she thought was Madeleine. The source added: "When the man, who is from Yorkshire, arrived home from Morocco he saw Madeleine's picture and was convinced he had seen her. "He reported the sighting to police and the Leicestershire force passed this on to the Moroccan and Portuguese authorities. Maybe it's the same girl, but the authorities have not yet been able to establish whether it was Madeleine. It is significant that the man made his report unaware of the other sighting. So we have TWO independent sightings in the SAME place."
Mrs Pollard, 45, insisted she was "100 per cent certain" she had seen Madeleine at the garage on the morning of May 9 — six days after the youngster vanished from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal.
The Norwegian, who was staying at the Ibis hotel with her British husband Raymond, was at the Afriquia garage when she saw a blonde girl standing near a man in his late 30s. The girl was asking him in English: "When can I see Mummy?"
News of the second witness in Morocco comes just days after Portuguese police admitted they are now considering all options, including that Madeleine could have been abducted.
The McCanns, both 39-year-old doctors from Rothley, Leics, have been named as suspects in the case by Portuguese police. The cops have leaked stories suggesting the couple sedated and accidentally killed Madeleine, then got friends to help cover it up. Heartbroken Gerry and Kate have always insisted their daughter was kidnapped, and the latest witness account adds weight to this theory.
Last night, a source close to the family said: "The significance of this sighting is that it was reported at the same time as the one by the Norwegian woman. This shows the person did not come forward as a result of publicity about the Norwegian witness, but is entirely independent. The fact that there are two separate sightings of a young girl looking like Madeleine in the same area, at the same time, give a great of deal of weight to this line of inquiry. Gerry and Kate are encouraged by this news and are fully aware it is significant."
Morocco has a reputation as a haven for paedophiles and its close proximity to Portugal and Spain immediately caught the attention of the McCanns.
It seems unlikely to me that Madeleine would still be alive after all this time, but perhaps it could be true. Two independent sightings in the same area at the same time can't be ignored, and maybe Maddie can still come home safe.