Kidnap in a small Community
Coral’s 999 call to the emergency services had given a very brief description of the vehicle seen in the vicinity at the time of April’s abduction.Police now find a witness with some critical information on that vehicle. The witness confirms to police that April got into a vehicle. Crucially, the witness is certain that April got into the wrong side of the vehicle, or rather, into a left hand drive vehicle. “Everybody went, ‘We know who it is.’ And I think 90% of the town probably knew who it was the minute they said ‘left hand drive.’Paul Jones, April’s Father Indeed, Paul had even once been fishing with the owner of that car.During the early hours of 2 October, local man, Mark Bridger becomes a person of interest.Word spreads quickly. PRIME SUSPECT Mark Bridger had lived within the Machynlleth community for some years in a cottage called Mount Pleasant. The 46 year old father does have a police record but otherwise, is an unremarkable man.“...He was not on our radar. He was not somebody that we considered to be a risk...In terms of his previous offending, there were minor offences that he’d been found guilty of but nothing to the extent that would have raised his profile from our perspective.”Andy John, Det. Superintendent, Dwfed-Powys Police
Bridger would tell people he’d served in the military. He hadn’t.He was, in fact, a former slaughterhouse worker. Before he moved to Machynlleth, he’d been a drifter with a history of broken relationships.The day before April’s abduction, he continued that pattern and broke up with his latest partner.He spent the rest of the day contacting women online.And, he engages in his other favourite online pastime – downloading and viewing child pornography. According to Professor Laurence Alison, from the University of Liverpool, there are two alternative theories as to how paedophiles use child pornography.One, the compensation model, believes that potential offenders view images online helping them resist the urge to make their fantasies a reality.The other, the behavioural facilitation model, believes repeated use of such imagery desensitises the viewer until only the thrill of an actual act of child abuse will stimulate.It’s this latter model into which Bridger fits.Professor Laurence Alison also believes Bridger’s actions were more predictable than many may have thought.“There are factors that would make someone a higher risk than someone else. And it might seem counterintuitive...You may have one individual that has got no previous convictions and no other indications of anti-social behaviour at all, and has thousands of images of children...Versus someone else that has got a very lengthy history of previous convictions for all kinds of things and actually not necessarily, and quite often not, sex offences...(for example) burglary, theft, acquisitive crime, violent crime etc. etc. that’s got three or four images of children – that individual would most certainly be more dangerous.”Mark Bridger’s criminal records stretched back 25 years and did include convictions for theft and possession of a firearm. He had also been violent with partners and had a problem with drinking.But he wasn’t convicted of a sexual offence and so was never considered a threat to children. As a driver of a left hand vehicle, the last vehicle April was seen in, police want to speak to him. They deploy a number of teams to a number of addresses. When one team enters his home address they are struck by two things: “The officers in attendance did notice firstly that it was very hot within the home. There was a roaring fire in the house and also a very strong smell of detergent something similar to bleach.” Andy John, Det. Superintendent, Dwfed-Powys Police Outside, the search continues.Coral asks everyone to wear pink as this is April’s favourite colour.Pink ribbons start being tied to railings and posts all over the town.