Police comb house of April Jones suspect


WELSH POLICE yesterday carried out an inch-by-inch search of the house owned by Mark Bridger, the man arrested on Tuesday in connection with the disappearance of five-year-old April Jones.

The search of the cottage and an outbuilding in Corris, where the little girl went missing on Monday night after she got into a vehicle, began as police were given a further 36 hours to question Mr Bridger.

Paving and concrete slabs were removed by officers around the two-storey house 10 miles from Machynlleth. They also cut away undergrowth in the lands surrounding the dwelling.

Locals insisted on staying involved in the search, despite police efforts to deter them because of fears that some could get hurt, particularly in the swollen River Dyfi.

Yesterday morning police said they did not need volunteers to help, but hundreds once again gathered at Machynlleth’s leisure centre, just as they have done every day this week. Given the intensity of local feelings, frustrations are inevitable, particularly as some locals feel that the scope of the search being conducted by the police is not wide enough.

“We’re liaising with the police to make sure that we don’t get in their way at all,” local farmer Emyr Lewis said as he led 30 people searching around Aberhosan, five miles from Machynlleth.

“But people want to be out there doing something. We can’t just sit at home or go to work while this is going on. We can’t rest until she’s found,” he said.

Police superintendent Ian John said: “We understand fully why people feel they want to do something practical, to get out there and find April. We want to ensure that we do all that we can to find her, and at the same time do nothing to jeopardise the efforts to locate her.

“We want people to come forward to provide the volunteer search co-ordinators in Machynlleth with their details and what skills and knowledge they possess.”

He called again on homeowners and landowners to search their properties closely.

Prime minister David Cameron, urging anyone with information that could lead to the discovery of April, said her parents, Paul and Coral, were facing “every family’s nightmare”.

More than 200 police are directly involved in the hunt for the five-year-old, along with 100 specially trained mountain rescue volunteers, dog-handlers and others searching the river.

Distraught grandfather Richard Moon spoke for many: “It’s the waiting, it’s killing us. We just don’t know what to do. I’ve spoken to Coral and she is in bits, she could hardly talk, it’s just terrible.

“We’re just praying that she will come home safe, but as the hours go by – it’s just too terrible to contemplate.” His fear is shared by all in the mid-Wales town.

Locals began yesterday to wear pink ribbons after they were called on to do so by April’s family.

“It’s something to do: one feels that one can do so little,” said one local.

Nearly 3,000 calls have been taken by the police from the public since the young girl went missing, and they are being examined not just by Dfyd Powys police but by every force in Britain.

Detectives have not ruled out the possibility that more than one person was involved in the disappearance, following the publication of a photograph of a man seen on Tuesday near the Dyfi.

Asked if he believed the girl can be found alive, Supt John said: “Our efforts are completely focused on doing that and we will continue to do that. I don’t want to speculate and put any kind of time limit on that.”

Details about the background of Mr Bridger is still being pieced together, though it is understood that he was born in south London but has lived in the Welsh town for 25 years.