Wales

April Jones abduction: Family 'shattered' by disappearance

  • 2 October 2012
  • From the section Wales
Media captionPolice read out missing girl's family statement: "Please help us bring home our beautiful little girl."

The family of a missing five-year-old girl say they are "shattered" by her disappearance, as police in mid Wales question a man over her abduction.

April Jones was with friends near her Machynlleth home when she got into a van at 19:00 BST on Monday.

Police said the arrested 46-year-old man was a "significant individual" - he has been named locally as Mark Bridger.

In a statement April's family said: "Please, please if you have our little girl, let her come home to us."

'Close knit community'

The statement, read at a news conference by Det Supt Reg Bevan, said: "Last night our lives were shattered when our beautiful little girl April who was playing with friends was taken from us.

"We are devastated and our lives have stopped.

Image caption Police outside the Jones family home

"This is such a small, close knit community and we plead with anyone who has any information no matter how small they may think it is to contact the police immediately.

"Please help us bring home our beautiful little girl."

Det Supt Bevan said the arrested man was in custody at Aberystwyth Police Station.

The 46-year-old man was arrested at about 16:00 BST on the A487 main road north out of Machynlleth, which has been closed in both directions as far as Cross Foxes, near Dolgellau, 12 miles away.

Officers said the man they were holding lived locally and had been sought by police.

Det Supt Bevan described him as a "significant individual", and said a vehicle police had recovered - a Land Rover Discovery - belonged to him, and was "similar to the description given by the children."

The officer added that he would not be naming the man in custody.

He said: "This is a criminal investigation and we are not able to comment on any speculation or rumour which could jeopardise the integrity of the investigation."

'Tremendous response'

On the continuing search for April, Det Supt Bevan said: "It's still at the stage where she remains missing. We are pursuing every line of inquiry that may result in finding April. At this stage we've found nothing."

Supt Ian John said specialist police officers and mountain rescue teams would be continuing to search the area throughout the night.

He said: "We ask the public to take this opportunity to have some rest and if they're available, to consider coming and helping us again tomorrow.

"I want to take this opportunity of reinforcing that if anyone has any information that can help us, or any sightings of April or the Land Rover that we have got the interest in, please call that dedicated hotline number, on 0300 2000 333."

Police have praised the "tremendous response" from the community after hundreds of people gathered at the local leisure centre to help with the search on Tuesday.

Search volunteer Anwen Morris said locals had searched an area with a 30-mile radius using quad bikes and off-road vehicles.

Image caption Volunteers joining police in the search in fields

Mayor of Machynlleth Gareth Jones said people had travelled from outside of the area to help.

"We live in hope," he said. "I want to appeal to people out there who may have seen something, even if they thought it's not of very much importance, to come forward and tell police."

Powys County Council said it was providing support for pupils and staff at April's school - Ysgol Gynradd Machynlleth.

St Peter's Church in the town has organised a vigil for people in the town where candles will be lit and prayers said for the missing schoolgirl.

According to Home Office figures there were 532 child abductions in England and Wales between 2011 and 2012.

About 500 children under 16 are abducted each year - but the majority of these are parental abductions, according to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop).

Dyfed-Powys Police have asked anyone with information to contact a dedicated hotline on 0300 2000 333.

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