An important suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann was the main suspect in at least one rape and two attempted rapes in Ireland.

Raymond Hewlett, who used Ireland as a hide-out when his name was linked to similar cases in Britain, is a key suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

Madeleine disappeared two years ago from her parents' holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in Portugal. Her disapperance sparked an international outcry.

Now, investigators working for Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate have zeroed in on Hewlett who is a convicted pedophile.

Hewlett has admitted being familiar with the layout of the holiday complex where the little girl went missing. He was living in an area about an hour's drive away at the time.

Hewlett is known to be part of a network of pedophiles who hid out in Ireland when they came to the attention of police in Britain.

He moved to Ireland the day after the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl in England in 1975 even though he would eventually be cleared of the crime. It is believed he stayed in Ireland for a year.

During the 1990s, he again moved to Ireland and was the chief suspect in two attempted rapes in Fermanagh and Co Down and the rape of a nine-year-old girl in Co Cavan. Hewlett's then wife told the Irish police that she suspected her husband was the rapist in the Cavan case.

He stayed in Ireland from 1991 to 1997 and kept on the move from Cork, Donegal, Cavan, Sligo Louth and Fermanagh. While in Louth he was suspected of attempting to abduct and sexually assault a young girl across the border in Co Down.

He traveled frequently to England and continental Europe and is believed to have been part of a pedophile buddy network which helped each other find safe places for them and locations to track children.