Thursday 23 November 2017

April suspect was at school event with her parents hours before she vanished

Police outside suspect Mark Bridger's rented cottage in Ceinws, Wales
Police outside suspect Mark Bridger's rented cottage in Ceinws, Wales
Dyfed-Powys Police undated handout photo of 46-year-old Mark Bridger who has been arrested following the abduction of April Jones
April Jones was last seen getting into a light coloured van which drove off in the mid Wales town of Machynlleth on Monday evening. Photo: PA
ABERYSTWYTH , WALES - OCTOBER 02: A police handout picture of April Jones is seen at a press conference into the abduction of 5-year-old April Jones in the Welsh Government Building on October 2, 2012 in Aberystwyth, Wales. The five-year-old was abducted from outside her house last night. Police have arrested a 46-year-old man in connection with her disappearance in the Machynlleth area. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Sam Marsden and Gordon Rayner

Mark Bridger, the man being held over the abduction of April Jones, attended the same school parents' evening as the five-year-old's mother and father in the hours before she was kidnapped, it has emerged.

Mr Bridger was at the Gynradd primary school on Monday evening, where his Land Rover Discovery, which matches the description of the vehicle in which April was taken, was parked in a one-way street and prevented other parents getting away.

Witnesses have also described seeing Mr Bridger driving "erratically" through the estate where April lived an hour before she was abducted, as police in Wales continued to build up a picture of his movements before and after the kidnapping.

Yesterday Mr Bridger (46) was questioned by detectives for a third time after magistrates granted police another 36 hours to hold him.

Police could apply for a further 24-hour extension today, but he must be charged or released by tomorrow afternoon.

Search

Senior officers said establishing where Mr Bridger was between 5pm on Monday and 3.30pm on Tuesday, when he was arrested, was key to the search for April, who was abducted at 7pm on Monday.

Powys County Council confirmed that Mr Bridger attended a parents' evening at the primary school in Machynlleth, where both his own daughter and April are pupils.

April's parents Coral and Paul Jones were reportedly still at the parents' evening when April, who was playing outside on her bike, disappeared.

A source said that at one point Mr Bridger's awkwardly-parked Land Rover blocked the one-way road in front of the primary school, preventing another parent from leaving.

Another witness said he saw him driving through the Bryn-y-Gog estate, where April lives, at 6pm on Monday.

"He was driving erratically through Bryn-y-Gog," said the witness. "He nearly hit my mate at 6pm. I heard other people say he was driving up and down the road."

At 9.15 on Tuesday morning, Mr Bridger seemed "agitated" as he drove out of Ceinws, the village where he had lived for the past month, according to motorist David Richards.

He said: "He was flustered. He was crashing the gears, making a hell of a noise.

"He went out to the junction, then stopped and there was an almighty bang.

"There was something wrong with the vehicle."

Mr Bridger's Land Rover was seized by police later that day at a repair garage after Mr Bridger had been arrested. Police searching his rented cottage lifted paving slabs and manhole covers in their hunt for clues yesterday, and a guest house nearby where he worked as an odd-job man was also searched.

April was born with cerebral palsy and has irritable bowel syndrome and needs daily doses of painkillers to manage her condition.

Her father Paul also has health problems, and has been unable to join the search for his daughter because he has a degenerative eye condition which prevents him working.

A family friend said: "Paul is feeling helpless -- he would like to be out there looking for his daughter but has been advised against it.

"But he is a strong personality and a good man -- he is holding everyone together at home." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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