Bridger charged as search for April Jones continues06/10/2012 - 19:36:02
Former lifeguard Mark Bridger was charged today with the abduction and murder of April Jones – but the five-year-old Welsh schoolgirl remains missing despite an intensive, ongoing search.
Bridger, 46, is also accused of perverting the course of justice and will appear before Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Court on Monday.
News that charges had been brought against Bridger, of Machynlleth, mid Wales, came at a packed press conference in Aberystwyth and brought to an end four days of police interrogation.
While the decision to bring a charge of murder means police have little expectation of finding April alive, residents in Machynlleth refuse to give up hope.
A mass procession and church service is expected to attract hundreds of people tomorrow and bring the town to a standstill.
It will be the latest show of mass solidarity by the resilient and close-knit community which refuses to give up hope.
Today Iwan Jenkins, of the Crown Prosecution Service in Wales, said the decision to charge Bridger came after concluding: “There is sufficient evidence to charge Mark Bridger with the murder of April Jones, and that it is in the public interest to do so.”
Dyfed Powys Police Chief Constable Jackie Roberts said it was now “time to let the judicial process take its course and time to let the family come to terms with what has happened over the last week”.
April, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was playing out late on her bicycle as a treat for a glowing school report when she disappeared on Monday evening.
Machynlleth will come to a stop tomorrow when hundreds of people are expected to attend a church service in her honour.
Residents from her home estate of Bryn-y-Gog will lead a slow massed procession through the town.
Police will close the main road through the centre of the market town while the massive show of solidarity and support takes place.
It will be the second such display within days after the community donned pink ribbons earlier this week in symbolic hope that April was still alive.
It followed a call from Coral Jones, 40, April’s mother, for people to wear ribbons of pink, April’s favourite colour.
The service tomorrow will take place at St Peter’s Church and will be led by the Bishop of Bangor, the Right Reverend Andrew John.
“I will be speaking just to say that in tragic times we need to be there for one another,” he said tonight.
“That is what we will be doing there, offering a prayer and hope and comfort and if people feel that to be the case it will be something good.”
His words came as an evening vigil was taking place again tonight at the church where tomorrow's service will be held.
Reverend Kathleen Rogers, the church vicar, and the Bishop of Bangor arrived to say their own prayers after discussing arrangements for the service tomorrow.
Such arrangements are being made while a major search operation is still ongoing at locations around the town.
Police said today the hunt for April will continue unabated.
On Friday night, however, searchers were stood down temporarily in the face of atrocious weather.
Superintendent Ian John said that 10 specialist police teams were deployed today and conducted systematic and methodical searches in and around the town.
“We continue to have the support of a whole range of search and rescue teams who are using specialist equipment as we continue our efforts,” he said.
“We will be keeping April’s family fully updated on progress of this investigation.
“Finally, despite today’s announcement, we are maintaining the momentum of the search and we remain totally focused and committed to finding April.”
Bridger, a local man known to the girl’s family, was originally arrested on suspicion of abduction on Tuesday afternoon.
His Land Rover Discovery was also seized by police and has been undergoing forensic examination.
On Friday police announced he had been arrested on suspicion of murder. They were later granted a final 24 hours to question him which was due to expire today shortly after he was charged with murder.
Emergency services including the Coastguard, RNLI, RAF mountain rescue and 150 members of mountain rescue teams from across the UK have all taken part in the search operation since April vanished.
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