A LEADING detective in the Madeleine McCann case said last night he believes her abductor or an informant will confess within his lifetime.
Jim Gamble, who was the UK's top child protection officer, led the initial British investigation into Maddie's disappearance.
She vanished aged three from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on the night of May 3, 2007.
Despite a 12-year search for the missing girl, no trace of Madeleine – who would now be 16 – has been found.
But Mr Gamble, who was head of the UK's Child Exploitation And Online Protection Centre at the time, believes the case will be solved.
He thinks that will likely only happen when Madeleine's abductor or their associates come forward and confess.
As time goes on, relationships change and people who’ve done things have life changing experiences that make them feel the need to tell. I think that can happen
Mr Gamble told The Daily Star Online: "I genuinely believe that either a prompt to someone’s conscience or the advances in modern technology will take us to a point in my lifetime where we find out what happened to Madeleine.
“I absolutely believe that.
"If this involves an abductor, someone will have seen something.
“Someone will have suspected something and for personal loyalty perhaps, a relationship, or whatever else – the fact that they’ve been unsure, they’ll have kept that to themselves.
“But as time goes on, relationships change and people who’ve done things have life changing experiences that make them feel the need to tell.
"I think that can happen."
Mr Gamble appeared prominently in the documentary The Disappearance Of Madeleine McCann, whose airing on Netflix has reignited global interest in the harrowing case.
CLOSING IN ON SUSPECT
He also believes that advances in technology could open up vital new leads in the case as police continue their hunt for missing Maddie.
Detectives believe she was stolen by child traffickers, sex fiends or during a burglary gone wrong and are understood to be closing in on a suspect.
Scotland Yard are still chasing “two final lines of inquiry” with an extra £300,000 funding set to be pledged by the Home Office.
The funding will see their Operation Grange investigation going until the end of March next year.
16TH BIRTHDAY HEARTACHE
Last week, Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry laid gifts in her untouched bedroom today to mark her 16th birthday on May 12.
They also hosted a party to honour the missing youngster at their home in Rothley, Leics.
The McCann's wrote on the Official Find Madeleine Campaign Facebook page: "Happy 16th Birthday, Madeleine!
"We love you and we’re waiting for you and we’re never going to give up.”
Mum Kate, 51, has bought gifts for her bedroom, unchanged since she vanished in Portugal in 2007.
A family pal said: “There will be prayers and quiet reflection but also a cake and presents to mark her turning 16, a significant age.”
Earlier this month Kate and husband Gerry, 50, shared their heartache at her imminent birthday, saying: "She should be here and we should be celebrating with her.”
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