Dieter Fehlinger, 67, is haunted by the thought that Madeleine McCann could have been hidden right under his nose (Picture: REX/PA)

The dad of Christian Brueckner’s ex-girlfriend fears Madeleine McCann was hidden inside the paedophile’s van as he was shown around it.

Dieter Fehlinger, 67, checked out the VW in 2007 while visiting his daughter Nicole in Portugal.

He previously said Brueckner – the prime suspect of Maddie’s murder – had said he could hide drugs or ‘even a small child’ in an adapted hiding place.

Fehlinger initially brushed off his concerns but is now haunted by the possibility that the British toddler could have been hidden right under his nose.

The former ambulance driver told Australian TV: ‘I have been thinking about it the whole time.’

Brueckner, a convicted paedophile and rapist from Germany, lived in his van around the same time Madeleine vanished from her family’s holiday villa in Praia da Luz in 2007.

He had been dating Nicole, 45, since 2006 after meeting her at a Christmas party. German authorities questioned her on their relationship, but she is not a suspect.

Madeleine was just three years old when she vanished from her parents holiday villa in Praia da Luz in 2007 (Picture: REX/Shutterstock)

Brueckner allegedly said he could hide drugs or ‘even a small child’ in an adapted hiding place in his VW (Picture: REX/Shutterstock)

Brueckner is currently serving time for raping a 72-year-old American woman and could soon be hit with fresh sex offence charges (Picture: REX/Shutterstock)

Brueckner is currently behind bars for raping a 72-year-old American tourist in the same area of Portugal where Madeleine went missing.

A milestone was reached in the case last month when Portuguese police formally named him as the prime suspect behind the British tot’s disappearance.

He has been under investigation by Germany officials for two years, and while they are building a case against him, he is unlikely to be charged over Maddie’s death in the near future.

This is despite investigators declaring they had found crucial new evidence linking Brueckner to the toddler.

However German prosecutors are thought to be just days away from charging him with separate sex offences unrelated to Maddie’s disappearance.

He is suspected of raping an Irish tour rep and indecently exposing himself to youngsters in Portugal, the Mirror reports.

Brueckner’s lawyers have been handed paperwork, the final step under the German system before charges are pressed.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

For more stories like this, check our news page.