Arrested man is 'a keen weapons' collector'
THE man suspected of kidnapping five-year-old April Jones is a keen weapons collector who kept samurai swords and de-activated guns in his home, a neighbour has disclosed.
Ben Edwards (22) said Mark Bridger (46) had rifles and handguns mounted on his wall, which he said had been "made safe", and he showed him a firearms licence for a rifle he kept in a box.
He said: "Mark also kept samurai swords on the table; he was a bit of a weapons' collector and his style was military."
Police disclosed yesterday that when Mr Bridger was arrested, walking along a main road just north of the village of Machynlleth, where April Jones was abducted on Monday evening, he was wearing a camouflage jacket and waterproof trousers.
As detectives continued to question Mr Bridger yesterday, neighbours described him as a man who was "running out of avenues" in the local community after a string of failed relationships and jobs.
He had an ex-wife and at least three long-term girlfriends in Machynlleth, fathering at least four children, and had worked as a welder, a mechanic, a hotel porter, a life guard and, most recently, an abbatoir worker.
His former wife, Julie Williams, had two sons with him but their split 20 years ago was so bitter that Mr Bridger had never met their younger son, Scott (19) until earlier this year, even though Scott lives on the Bryn-y-gog estate in Machynlleth where Mr Bridger, who is originally from Surrey, spent much of his time and where April Jones lives.
He had two more children, Connor (12) and Sophie (10), with Elaine Griffiths, who also lives on the Bryn-y-gog estate. The children were playmates of April, together with Elaine Griffiths's four-year-old daughter from another relationship, Erin.
When Mr Bridger first arrived in Machynlleth more than 20 years ago, he told locals he had left the army because of a back problem, but the Ministry of Defence said yesterday it had no record of him serving in any branch of the armed forces.
One friend said: "He is a very protective and friendly kind of guy. He was always asking how my children were. He would have been one of the first ones to go out on the search for April -- he would have been as distraught as anyone else.
"I cannot get over the fact he has been arrested," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)