Thursday 21 September 2017

Missing April Jones: 'Our innocent, sweet girl is not coming home again'

A mother holds her little one as hundreds pay their respects at an emotional service for missing April Jones
A mother holds her little one as hundreds pay their respects at an emotional service for missing April Jones

Victoria Ward

THE family and friends of missing five-year-old April Jones have been urged to accept that their "sweet and innocent little girl" is never coming home.

But their parish priest, the Rev Kathleen Rogers, vowed that "evil will never win over the good in people" as she praised the extraordinary love and resilience the community had shown in the face of deep despair.

The mid-Wales market town of Machynlleth came together to remember April at an emotional church service held less than 24 hours after Mark Bridger (46) was charged with her murder. He will appear in court today.

Up to 1,000 people walked silently from the estate on which April was last seen to St Peter's Church, where they were urged to take comfort from each other.

The Bishop of Bangor, the Right Rev Andy John, praised the "extraordinary" determination of the community, the loyalty that had seen hundreds search for the missing girl. "You have touched the hearts of people across the world," he told the packed church and the hundreds gathered outside listening on loudspeakers.

He thanked the community for the love that had gone "beyond any expectation", the mountain rescue teams and the emergency services for their resolve, and the people of Wales who had travelled hundreds of miles to aid the search.

April's parents, Coral (40) and Paul Jones (43) were too heartbroken to attend the service. But in a direct message to them, the bishop pledged that the care and compassion shown over the past week would endure.

"Well after the cameras have gone we will still be here for you," he said. "Our prayers for you and April will continue and not cease."

Superintendent Ian John of Dyfed-Powys Police, admitted that the mountain rescue searches would be scaled down, while police focused on the vicinity of the town.

"We will see change in resourcing but not in intensity," he said. "We remain totally focused and committed to finding April."

Meanwhile, a disused quarry half-a-mile from Mr Bridger's house has been sealed off and was described by a police source as a "crime scene" and "another piece of the jigsaw". A police spokeswoman declined to discuss the development.

The quarry, in Ceinws, about five miles from Machynlleth, is near the farm house where Mr Bridger lived for the two weeks before his arrest. Locals said it was "dangerous" and had three mine shafts and several ventilation shafts. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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