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Missing Maddie's mom had 'suicidal thoughts', court told

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Kate McCann, mother of missing British girl Madeleine McCann, is mobbed by reporters as she leaves the court house in Lisbon on September 12, 2013. (AFP/File)

The mother of missing British girl Madeleine McCann has had suicidal thoughts, a psychologist on Thursday told a Portuguese court hearing a libel case against the author of a book on her daughter's disappearance.

Alan Pike was testifying on the psychological distress suffered by Kate McCann since the publication of a book in July 2008 by Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral on Madeleine's disappearance.

Then three-years-old, Madeleine went missing as the family holidayed on the Algarve. Amaral's book advances the theory that Madeleine died accidentally and that her parents were implicated in her death.

The McCanns have strongly denied the accusations and say the former inspector's claims have hampered the search for their daughter and exacerbated the anguish suffered by her relatives.

"She says she spent a few days in tears. Kate talks about not being around anymore, and refers to killing herself as an option," Pike told the court. McCann was not present for the hearing.

However he added: "I deduced an indication of how she felt rather than something she would ever intend to do."

Pike first met the McCanns two days after Madeleine's May 3, 2007 disappearance, when he offered them psychological support. He has been in touch with them ever since.

The libel suit began last Thursday, but proceedings were halted on the second day of the hearing as the court was due to hear evidence from members of the McCann family.

"The judge had a problem. We are going to propose that the witnesses give their testimonies in written form so they do not have to return from Britain again, but it is not certain that this will be accepted by the court," a lawyer for the McCann family told AFP last Friday.

The testimony of family members such as Kate's mother Susan Halley, has been postponed.

The family is seeking the equivalent of ??1 million (1.2 million euros, $1.6 million) in damages.

The McCanns have unsuccessfully tried to ban the book. It was taken off sale but is now back on the shelves.

British police said in August they were opening their own investigation into Madeleine's disappearance. She was just a few days short of her fourth birthday when she vanished.

Her parents believe she was kidnapped and is still alive.