German police have been asked to visit a second allotment rented by a Madeleine McCann suspect after neighbours called them two months ago to investigate.
Christian Brückner, named as a suspect in the three-year-old’s disappearance in 2007, had lived on and off at the allotment in Braunschweig between 2013 to 2016.
On Thursday, neighbours said the 42-year-old had been digging a cellar underneath the blue-roofed cottage and that they had called the police two months ago to inform them that he owned a garden there.
However, they said they had yet to see or speak to any German investigators about the site, named Am Fullerkamp.
It comes as officers completed a two-day dig at an allotment on the border of Hannover, where they uncovered a cellar and searched it with sniffer dogs.
Brückner is believed to have stayed at the Hannover site – about 61 km from the Braunschweig allotment – in 2007, the year Madeleine went missing from Praia da Luz, in Portugal.
Karsten Richter told The Telegraph that he had called the police two months ago to ask whether they knew that Brückner had an allotment on the outskirts of Braunschweig.
He said that they appeared to be unaware that he rented the property.
“I spoke to the criminal police in Braunschweig and thought the next day they’d turn up with a huge police presence, but nobody came,” he said.
Mr Ritcher’s sister Helga Krause, who owns the plot to the left of the site that Brückner rented, said: “I haven’t seen the police here at all. I wouldn’t mind if the police came, who knows what, he could have hidden something in the cellar there?”
She said that the German national had a girlfriend who was a “younger Turkish woman”. “She told me that he used to hit her, but I didn’t get involved,” recalled Mrs Krause.
Her father, who also owns an allotment there, went on to claim that Bruckner dug out a cellar underneath the garden house in Braunschweig but that this got him in trouble with the allotment management, who forced him to stop.
Manfred Richter, 80, said: “Brückner excavated the floor of the house. He took out the rocks and the earth. He dug a big hole. It was 20 cubic metres in total. He carried out the rocks and earth by hand and dumped it out by the front of the house. He put planks of wood over the top of the hole.”
A mound of earth could be seen next to a cesspit on Thursday afternoon. It comes as police visited Brückner’s previous hotspots including, on Wednesday morning, the kiosk where he worked mornings and, on Wednesday evening, the bar that he frequented, Club Havana in Hannover.
The owner of Club Havana said it was the first time police had made contact. It is expected that officers are carrying out forensic tests on the six bags of rubble seen being removed from the plot near Hannover.
A neighbour who lives opposite the excavated allotment and did not want to be named said he had been inside the shed near Hannover but had only seen corrugated iron sheets.
“He lived here in 2007. Everyone knew about the basement, it wasn’t a secret. The entrance has become overgrown so they probably had to clear stuff to get in there. I’ve been in there myself and know what it looks like – there’s just corrugated iron sheets that were illegally stored in there. Nobody has lived there or used it since,” the neighbour said.
Brückner moved to Brauschweig from Hannover in 2013 and is believed to have rented the allotment in the Am Fullenkamp garden colony in the same year. While in the town he ran a kiosk and rented a flat in the building above.
Neighbours remember him talking openly about his criminal past in Portugal. He is said to have confessed to having had a drug problem before seeking a fresh start back in his home country.
From local reports, Brückner came across as a Jekyll and Hyde character who could be friendly, warm and funny to customers in his shop but who also threatened his neighbours and beat his younger girlfriend.
On Thursday afternoon, Braunschweig prosecutors told The Telegraph they could not comment on whether detectives had investigated the Braunschweig allotment.
Brückner’s lawyers said that they had refiled an application for his early release, having withdrawn it from the Braunschweig courts a few days ago. Kiel regional court will now consider the request.
His sentence ends on January 7 next year.
On Thursday evening a one-time business associate of Brückner said he had taken Germany’s equivalent of the FBI, the Bundeskriminalant (BKA), to the Braunschweig allotment plot last month – after Brückner was named as a suspect in the disappearance ofMadeleine McCann.
The source said he met officers after contacting them to see if he could aid the investigation.
However, another neighbour said the cellar in Braunschweig was built by the previous tenant and that Brückner had “just opened it up” by removing the floorboards.