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Bridger in court as the search for April goes on

THE MAN accused of abducting and killing five-year-old schoolgirl April Jones is due to appear in court today charged with her murder.

Mark Bridger (46) will face Aberystwyth Magistrates' Court in relation to the schoolgirl's disappearance in Machynlleth, mid-Wales, a week ago.

Bridger was charged with the abduction and murder of April on Saturday following four days of questioning.

He is also charged with perverting the course of justice.

April, who suffers from cerebral palsy and needs daily medication, was last seen on the town's Bryn-y-Gog estate on Monday evening.

A witness saw her step into what is believed to have been a Land Rover Discovery car.

Parents Coral Jones (40) and Paul Jones (44) allowed her to play out late as a treat after she received a glowing school report.

On Wednesday, a devastated Mrs Jones made an emotional plea for information over her daughter's disappearance, in which she said: "It's been 36 hours since April was taken from us. There must be someone out there who knows where she is and can help the police find her. We are desperate for any news. April is only five years old. Please, please, help find her."

April remains missing despite an intensive, ongoing search effort.



Sermon

More than 700 people packed into Machynlleth's St Peter's Church yesterday to attend an emotional service for the girl.

Reverend Kathleen Rogers led the moving sermon, in which she said: "The realisation is coming on since yesterday when we heard 'murder' -- that has hit home."

Reverend Rogers said prayers for April's parents and paid tribute to the community who had pulled together to help in the search.

She read a poem on behalf of April's mother as the Bishop of Bangor, Reverend Andy John, said the tight-knit community had "touched the hearts of people around the world".

He revealed that emails had been received from as far afield as South Africa and New Zealand, with a church in Texas even making a donation.

Meanwhile, the hunt goes on, with investigating officers revealing police numbers on the ground are expected to double this morning.

Mountain rescue teams were stood down last night as the search operation switched emphasis.

Night time searches have been suspended, with the shift in manpower being described as a change of "resources rather than intensity". Superintendent Ian John paid tribute to mountain rescue volunteers "who have worked themselves to a standstill in the search for April".

He added: "We are upping our numbers to 18 teams which will be over 100 officers."

hnews@herald.ie


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