| 11.2°C Dublin

Snatch suspect is ex-soldier with six children

A FORMER soldier arrested on suspicion of kidnapping April Jones has six children within walking distance of the five-year-old's home.

Mark Bridger is not well-liked in the Welsh town of Machynlleth where he has an ex-wife and two ex-girlfriends.

The 46-year-old has been the police's prime suspect from the time little April was reported missing on Monday night.

He is closely associated with the Bryn-y-Gog estate where the girl lives and is known to have had a number of relationships in the district where he fathered six children.

Up until two years ago he was living with a local woman named Corinna Robinson but they split up and neighbours said he had moved in with another woman on the estate.

Born and brought up in Surrey, Bridger has lived in Machynlleth since the late 1980s. The second child of three, he still has an older sister and younger brother who both live in Surrey.

After serving in the British army, Bridger met Julie Williams and the couple married in Machynlleth in June 1990.

The couple had a son Scott in 1992 but then separated. Bridger remained in the town finding work as a welder at a company called Verona Design Welding and Fabrication.

He is believed to have spent large periods of time unemployed but also worked at a slaughterhouse and then as a lifeguard at Machynlleth Leisure Centre from where the search for April has been co-ordinated. Locals describe him as "not particularly popular".

One resident of the estate said he had recently been evicted from his rented accommodation after his landlady discovered he had been keeping chickens inside the property.

One neighbour, however said Bridger was " a nice guy and absolutely brilliant with his son and daughter, He was always putting his kids first".


He said he was "into his cars" and was "never the type to cause trouble".

He was known as a keen camper and recently posted a recommendation on a camping forum for a site at which he and his girlfriend has stayed in France.

His elderly parents, Pamela and Graham Bridger are thought to live in a retirement park in England.

Mark Bridger is known to April's mother Coral and father Paul. He was arrested as he walked along a main road to the north of the town after a former neighbour tipped off police.

He had been walking quickly towards a bridge that led into the town. H was wearing sunglasses and a khaki jacket with his head down.

Mark Bridger's daughter was reportedly among the children who had been playing with April and he was known to have a van matching the description given by Milly.

Bridger's three former wives and girlfriends all live within walking distance of April's home.