Man arrested in search for missing Welsh five-year-old

Tue, Oct 2, 2012, 01:00

A man arrested over the abduction of missing Welsh girl April Jones was known to her family.

The 46-year-old man from the Machynlleth area was caught on foot but his empty car was quickly recovered, police said.

Forensic officers tonight continued to examine the vehicle - which they said the man “had use of”.

Detectives were also examining whether the abduction of April (5) was linked to another suspicious approach in the Aberystwyth area around one week ago - as well as looking closely at the movements of registered sex offenders living in the area.

The developments in the investigation came shortly before April’s parents Coral (40) and Paul (43) had been due to make a public appeal at a press conference.

Speaking at the press conference tonight, Det Supt Reg Bevan, from Dyfed Powys Police, said a number of inquiries were being pursued.

He also read a statement from the family of the missing girl, which stated that their lives were "shattered" when April went missing. "We are devastated and our lives have stopped. Please, please if you have our little girl, let her come home to us."

The Jones family appealed to anyone with information to contact the police.

A massive search operation was mounted for April after the Machynlleth primary pupil was seen getting in a mystery light coloured van near her home in Brynygog at around 7.30pm yesterday.

Members of the public have been called off the effort for the night put specialist police and mountain rescue officials are to continue their work until the morning.

April’s godmother Mair Raftree, 41, from Aberystwyth, who has helped with the efforts to find her, said: “She’s a quiet girl, and an important member of her family. She would never go with anybody and ask for a lift. We just want her back safely.” Neighbours on the quiet former council estate where April was taken, also expressed their shock.

Police stepped up their investigations further tonight.

As well as deploying Dyfed Powys Police’s force helicopter, fitted with some of the latest thermal imaging technology, trained officers were also seen searching the bank along the River Dyfi.

The man was arrested just outside Machynlleth at about 3.30pm before being taking to Aberystwyth police station for questioning.

Supt Ian John, the local police commander, said: “We are hopeful that we can still find April safe and well.” He also confirmed that search efforts had focused on checking on the whereabouts of registered sex offenders known to be living in the area.

“In this type of investigation we will be looking back through those types of links,” he added.

Police were also understood to be looking at possible links between April’s abduction and a suspected abduction attempt last week — with reports of a vehicle seen “acting suspiciously” in the Aberystwyth area near a young schoolboy.

As the effort to find April continued, officers have been enforcing a restricted access down the A487 road heading north from Machynlleth close to the railway station.

They have advised drivers the road was closed to all motorists apart from people who lived just beyond the closure. It is understood searches are now taking place along the stretch of road.