A MAN who kidnapped a Northwich teenager 21 years ago has been named as the number one suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann by the toddler’s parents.

Raymond Hewlett, who was 43 at the time, was jailed for six years after he abducted a 14-year-old Cuddington girl from her paper round at knifepoint.

Hewlett, now 64, has been described by the McCanns as ‘one line of inquiry’ by private investigators into the disappearance of their daughter, Madeleine.

Madeleine, then three, vanished from a holiday apartment in the Algarve in May 2007.

Guardian archives recall how Weaverham High School pupil Claire Henderson was kidnapped on January 15, 1988 as she was completing her paper round.

Claire was snatched halfway through her paper round on the Valley Lane estate and had delivered 12 of her 24 papers when Hewlett approached her telling her he was a policeman.

She was then taken to a quarry 80 miles away from her home and threatened with a four inch knife, which police at the time said was similar to one used by fishermen.

In the aftermath of her disappearance an incident room was set up at Cuddington Scout Hut and officers spent hours knocking on doors of local residents to see if they had any information on Claire’s whereabouts.

Once caught he was charged and appeared before Northwich Magistrates Court on February 8, 1988 and was remanded in custody at the Risley Remand Centre in Warrington.

The Guardian has learned that Claire has since moved away from mid Cheshire although her parents, Dennis and Junia, still live in the area.

When contacted by the Guardian the family said the incident was in their past and they would not comment further.

Hewlett – who is currently undergoing treatment for throat cancer – has since given a saliva swab to police from his hospital bed in Germany last week.

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