A conman accused of duping the family of Maddie McCann out of £300,000 has been found dead in a secluded mansion.
Kevin Halligen – who posed as a “James Bond-style” private detective to probe the youngster’s disappearance – was discovered covered in blood at his long term partner’s home.
Now detectives have confirmed they are probing the 56-year-old’s death after his body was transferred to the morgue.
Defence consultant Tim Craig-Harvey, a former associate of Halligen, wrote online: “The lies and alcohol finally caught up with him.”
In 2009 it emerged Halligen had been paid £500,000 from a public fund to find missing Maddie – but he squandered the cash on “pointless tactics”.
He boasted of employing ex-FBI, CIA and Special forces officers while offering undercover surveillance and intelligence gathering in Portugal.
He even said he could provide satellite imagery and details of telephone traffic from the night Maddie disappeared – but instead used screengrabs from Google Earth.
He set up a hotline for potential informants and witnesses but none of the hundreds of calls received were listened to by investigators at his Washington-based Oakley International.
And Halligen claimed to have hired an actor to pretend to be a “drunken priest” who would seek confessions as he toured the bars of Praia da Luz, where Maddie disappeared in May 2007.
He told colleagues that a family with a Maddie lookalike daughter had been paid to set up home in a nearby resort in order to tempt out a potential kidnapper.
But Halligen had squandered the cash on an extraordinary spree on hotels, cigar bars, restaurants and luxury goods.
In his first two months as lead investigator in the search for Maddie, Halligen spent £7,000 on a personal chauffeur.
A few months later, on a short trip to New York with a girlfriend, he lavished £1,600 on Salvatore Ferragamo leather goods, £5,500 on handbags, £500 on an Italian meal, £150 on a pair of designer glasses and £900 on a three-night stay at the five-star Renaissance Hotel.
A source said: “Halligen was a real Walter Mitty character. He claimed to be a spy and conned even senior spooks.
“But it was all a complete lie. He would stay in five-star hotels and order the most expensive food and wine. He lived a playboy lifestyle.”
A source close to Maddie’s parents, Kate and Gerry, said they terminated their contract with Oakley international at the end of 2008 and had not had anything to do with Kevin Halligen since.
After being sacked from the McCann investigation, Halligen was arrested in the UK and extradited to America on fraud charges for an unrelated case.
He pleaded guilty to defrauding Trafigura, based in the Netherlands, who had hired him to help free two company executives arrested in Ivory Coast in 2006.
He received about $12 million to provide “security, intelligence and public relations”.
Trafigura gave Halligen an additional $2.1 million to “hire lobbyists and influence officials in the United States on Trafigura’s behalf”.
The next day, Halligen used nearly $1.7 million of that money to buy a large home with a swimming pool.
He also stayed in a Willard Hotel suite for months at a time and drank the days away at pricey restaurants.
He travelled everywhere in a chauffeur-driven Lincoln Town Car, set up high-tech offices and schmoozed his way into Washington’s intelligence elite — Pentagon officials, influential lawyers and lobbyists and former CIA operatives.
One restaurant owner said he and his staff called Halligen “James Bond” because of his stories of spy derring-do and his habit of tossing around huge sums of cash.
It followed years of scamming people in the UK, including John Holmes, a retired British army general who was head of the British military’s special forces.
Holmes said he met Halligen in 2002, when Halligen took an IT job at a private security consulting firm where Holmes was working after his military retirement.
Halligen’s body – covered in blood – was found at a property near Guildford on Monday. There is no suggestion anyone was involved in his death.
A spokesman for Surrey Police said: ‘We were called to an address in Cobbett Hill Road, Normandy, Guildford, on Monday following a report of a man in his 50s having been taken unwell, who subsequently died.
‘The death is being treated as unexplained and a file will be passed to the coroner’s office in due course.’