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Madeleine:FBI expert shows how missing 4-year-old may look now

Madeleine eight months on:

A haunting picture of Madeleine McCann as she might look today should be used in the hunt to find the four-year-old, a former police chief said yesterday.

State-of-the-art "age advancement" digital techniques were used by an FBI expert to create the image, which shows how Madeleine might have changed over the eight months since she disappeared.

Former assistant chief constable John Stalker called for the picture to be used in the search to find the missing child.

He told The People newspaper, which commissioned the image: "This shows the little girl we should now be looking for.

"My first thought when I saw the image was 'Who is this little stranger?'

"It was only after looking closer that I realised it was her - and that is why this image is needed so badly because many people could have walked straight past her."

New York Police Department forensic artist Stephen Mancusi (corr), who also advises the FBI, altered a photograph of Madeleine to show how she might look after eight months in the hands of an abductor.

Her blonde hair has been cut and dyed, her face looks strained and haggard and her cheeky smile has gone. But the distinctive fleck in her right eye - the so-called 'mark of Madeleine' - remains.

The techniques are usually used in the case of children who have been missing for several years and even grown into adulthood.

But Mr Mancusi, whose digital reconstructions have helped to catch murderers, rapists and paedophiles, said Madeleine could already look dramatically different.

He said: "This tragic ordeal would have taken her brightness away. Now that eight months has passed, I think that sunny little girl illustrated in so many of her pictures would have faded.

"She most likely will look tired and possibly unkempt. Since her image has been so publicised around the world, the suspects would want to hide Madeleine as much as possible.

"Changing her image would be the first priority and with the passage of time - even less than a year - she could look like a complete stranger."

Mr Stalker added: "What makes it so realistic and tragic is that you can almost see the sorrow in the face - the pain of being away from her Mum and Dad for over eight months. We are looking for a new Madeleine."

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