Police: girl seen in New Zealand store not missing Madeleine

18:03, March 04, 2010      

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A young girl who was seen in a New Zealand store and resembled Madeleine McCann, was not the missing British girl, according to Dunedin police.

Officers in the country said they had identified the girl seen in 2007 by a retail store assistant but would not provide any details of her identity.

Gerry (L) and Kate McCann, parents of Madeleine McCann, walk near the Portuguese beach resort of Lagos June 4, 2007. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

A statement from New Zealand's National Police headquarters said: "Police have identified the child and family thought by a retail assistant to be missing British girl Madeleine McCann. She is not the missing British girl."

Taryn Dryfhout, who was working in the Warehouse store in the southern city of Dunedin in December 2007, claimed she had seen the missing girl.

Her suspicions were aroused when a man and woman, who had a boy and girl with them, came to the checkout.

A photo of missing British girl in Portugal, Madeleine McCann, made into a poster is released May 12, 2007. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

"As soon as they entered the checkout I felt like it was her (Madeleine McCann) - she was blonde, quite petite and had very big eyes. It was a striking resemblance to the pictures of Madeleine," said Dryfhout.

"I was stricken by the wee girl who looked just like Madeleine McCann...She had an English accent as well and she told me that her name was Hayley, and was quite apprehensive...She was just very shy and afraid."

Other leads in the newly-released Portuguese police dossier include a report of a small blonde girl being dragged along the road to Faro airport in the Algarve - an hour's drive from Praia da Luz - on the night Madeleine vanished.

Madeleine disappeared in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3 of 2007 while vacationing with her family there, days before her fourth birthday.

Her family are still just wanting answers about their missing girl.

"If anybody in New Zealand, particularly in the Dunedin area feels that they may have seen a child answering Madeleine's description as well, please tell the local police - it's absolutely the right thing to do," said Clarence Mitchell, the McCann family spokesman.

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