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Life unravelled after he had six children by four women

With at least six children by four women Mark Bridger was always confident of his ability to attract members of the opposite sex, if not to keep them.

Lurching from one failed relationship to the next, he always kept potential girlfriends on the back burner should the latest tire of his drinking and temper.

But when Vicky Fenner sent him a text message on the morning of October 1 last year, saying their relationship was over after 11 months, something snapped. Alone, with only a border collie for company, the realisation that he was losing control of his life seemed to hit home.

After spending the day drinking cider, viewing pornography and emailing women to ask them out, Bridger got in his Land Rover and headed to the Bryn-y-Gog estate in Machynlleth where he abducted five-year-old April Jones.

It is believed he sexually assaulted her before killing her and disposing of her so thoroughly that hardly a trace has been found. The horrific crime belies the ordinariness of his middle-class upbringing.

Born in Carshalton, Surrey in 1965, Bridger was the middle child of policeman Graham Bridger and his wife Pamela. He was proud that his father was a Royal Protection Officer and would brag about visiting Windsor Castle.

But while his brother and sister did well at school, Bridger found it hard to settle down.

After a string of dead-end jobs he joined the fire brigade as a trainee but quit after six months.

In 1984, to his father's shame, Bridger admitted theft and firearms offences at the Old Bailey. He was placed on probation for two years.

Around this time, aged 20, he fathered his first child, with Deborah Verona.

But the couple split before baby Steven was born, to the anger of Bridger's parents, and he moved to mid-Wales, the site of childhood holidays. He spent months in a tent on a beach before finding accommodation in Porthmadog and a new girlfriend, Keeley Reynolds. She was soon expecting his second child, Bobby.

The relationship broke down and in 1990 he married Julie Williams, moving to her home town of Machynlleth. When the marriage ended, he stayed, despite having nothing to do with their two sons, Sean and Scott.

A two-year relationship with Vanessa Brooks, a local woman, followed. Then, in his early 30s, he began dating Elaine Griffiths (15) whose older sister was going out with April's future father Paul Jones.

Miss Griffiths had a son and a daughter with Bridger, but the relationship faltered.

He decided to make a fresh start in Australia, but just three months later was back in Machynlleth. He began a brief relationship with Corrina Robinson, his landlady, and landed a job in an abattoir, where he became expert at butchery and fascinated with knives.

In April 2007 he was convicted of assault after a row with a man in a pub.

By 2010 he had begun seeing Miss Fenner, and rented a cottage in Ceinws several miles from Machynlleth in the hope that she would move in. But weeks later she broke off the relationship.

For all his other failings, there is no evidence that he had ever tried to act on his sexual fascination with children. Det Supt Andy John said: "I think April Jones happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent