Private detective, 56, who conned Madeleine McCann’s parents out of £300,000 died in fall

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The private detective who conned Madeleine McCann’s parents out of £300,000 claiming he could find her died in a fall before his body was found covered in blood, a coroner has ruled.

Kevin Halligen, 56, ran Oakley International, which received the publicly donated cash after Madeleine McCann vanished from Praia da Luz in Portugal aged three in 2007.

His home was said to have been ‘bloodied’ when he was found there on January 8 2018 and police first treated his death as ‘unexplained’.

But at his inquest coroner Richard Travers heard he died from a brain haemorrhage and that detectives found ‘no suspicious circumstances’. 

Kevin Halligen, 56, (pictured) ran Oakley International, which received the publicly donated cash after Madeleine McCann vanished from Praia da Luz in Portugal aged three in 2007 

Paramedics called to Mr Halligen’s home in Normandy, Surrey, performed CPR on him but he could not be saved. A postmortem found he died of an acute subdural haemorrhage. 

Despite being a convicted conman, the inquest recorded Mr Halligen as an ‘intelligence and security officer’, according to The Mirror. 

Halligen – who is said to have presented himself as a ‘cloak-and-dagger, James Bond-style spy’ – denied claims the donated cash was used to pay for first-class travel, hotels and a chauffeur.

In 2012, Halligen was extradited from Britain to America, where he admitted conning millions of pounds from a company whose executives had been kidnapped in Africa. He was jailed for 42 months.

At the time of his death, a source who knew the Dublin-born debt-ridden private eye said he was ‘a boozer’ and ‘drink was inevitably his downfall.’ 

Kate and Gerry McCann (pictured) were initially impressed by Dublin-born Halligen, believing he 'was in a different league' to other private investigators

Kate and Gerry McCann (pictured) were initially impressed by Dublin-born Halligen, believing he ‘was in a different league’ to other private investigators

Defence consultant Tim Craig-Harvey, a former associate of Halligen, said: ‘The lies and alcohol finally caught up with him.’  

The McCanns hired Halligen’s firm in a bid to boost the search for Maddie after failing to come up with any plausible leads one year after she went missing.

They agreed a £500,000 fee with Oakley International, which was described by a source close to the family as ‘extremely secretive’ but ‘absolutely the best’. 

Kate and Gerry McCann were initially impressed by Halligen, believing he ‘was in a different league’ to other private investigators.

He boasted of employing ex-FBI, CIA and Special forces officers while offering undercover surveillance and intelligence gathering in Portugal.

The detective even said he could provide satellite imagery and details of telephone traffic from the night Madeleine disappeared. 

The McCanns hired Halligen’s firm in a bid to boost the search for Maddie (pictured) after failing to come up with any plausible leads one year after she went missing

But within a year, questions began to emerge about Oakley and Halligen in particular.

Researchers claimed that the firm had not looked into hundreds of calls made to a special hotline – while specialists found that their bills were unpaid.

The promised satellite images also allegedly turned out to have been grabbed from Google Earth. 

Six months into the highly-paid assignment, the McCanns were growing increasingly concerned about Halligen.

It is believed Kevin Halligen was found at the home of his long-term girlfriend, which is among the private Henley Park gated community (pictured) in Guildford

It is believed Kevin Halligen was found at the home of his long-term girlfriend, which is among the private Henley Park gated community (pictured) in Guildford

A family friend said: ‘He had this sense of cloak-and-dagger, acting as if he were a James Bond-style spy.

‘The McCanns found him hard to deal with, because he was forever in another country and using different phones. He promised the earth but it came to nothing.’

The contract was terminated early after £300,000 had been paid to Halligen.

Kate said: ‘We were upset that, although a lot of hard work had been done on Madeleine’s behalf, it seemed money provided by her fund might not ever have reached the people who had earned it.’  

Kate, 49, previously told how the family had suffered ‘a particularly bad experience’ with Halligen, who she knew as Richard. She described the ordeal he put them through in her best seller 2011 book ‘Madeleine’. 

Colleagues said that far from being an expert in undercover operations, Halligen was ‘out of his depth’ with ‘no experience of such investigations.’ 

In 2014, Kevin Halligen made a rare public appearance, agreeing to be interviewed for a Channel 5 documentary – The McCanns and The Conman.

He denied that he misused money raised to find Madeleine. Answering claims that he spent the money on first class travel, luxury hotel suites and a chauffeur, he said: ‘It is gross distortion of what was actually happening.’ 

The hunt for Madeleine McCann continues, more than 13 years after her disappearance. A team from Scotland Yard has been probing the case since 2011. 

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