Police given extra 24 hours to quiz April murder suspect

Mark Bridger
Mark Bridger Photo: Dyfed Powys Police handout

Dyfed Powys Police have been granted an additional 24 hours to question April Jones murder suspect Mark Bridger following a magistrates court hearing.

The 46-year-old covered his face with a blue blanket, as he was taken to Aberystwyth Magistrates Court this afternoon, as police applied for the extension.

Police officers now have until 5pm on Saturday to question the suspect. At that time officers will need to charge or release him. ITV News' Crime Correspondent Jon Clements understands the decision will be made well before the Saturday deadline.

ITV News Special Correspondent Geraint Vincent reports:

Earlier today the 46-year-old was arrested on suspicion of the murder of missing five-year-old April Jones. He was was initially arrested on Tuesday afternoon on suspicion of her abduction.

April Jones' family has released new photographs of the five-year-old. Credit: Dyfed Powys Police handout

ITV News understands that the decision to open a murder inquiry was made following the results of forensic tests received overnight.

ITV News reporter Emily Morgan spent the day with volunteers searching for April:

Police also repeated their appeal for anyone who may have been in contact with Mr Bridger - whether it be face-to-face, on the telephone or via social media - to get in contact by dialling: 0300 2000 333.

Five-year-old April Jones was last seen on Monday. Credit: Dyfed Powys Police handout

Officers are also interested to hear from anyone who saw Mr Bridger, or his Land Rover Discovery vehicle (pictured below) between 5pm on Monday and 3.30pm on Tuesday.

Mark Bridger's blue Land Rover Discovery, registration L503 MEP Credit: Dyfed-Powys Police handout

Whilst an extensive search for April Jones continues, the focus has inevitably shifted into a recovery operation.

Supt Ian John, of Dyfed Powys Police, thanked the hundreds of volunteers who have joined the search for their commitment, but asked them to leave the work to trained professionals.

Five-year-old April Jones has been missing since Monday. Credit: Dyfed Powys Police handout

He said the "dynamics" of the search have changed and it is "no longer appropriate for us to expect untrained members of the public to continue the search".

Hundreds of specialist officers continue to search the depths and banks of the River Dyfi, which runs along the northern edge of Machynlleth.

Search and rescue teams continue their search on the River Dyfi Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Yesterday, detectives looking for missing April searched more than 20 sites, including a farmhouse where Mr Bridger is believed to have lived recently.

Police officers were seen digging up paving stones and drilling off doors at the house called 'Mount Pleasant' in the village of Ceinws, five miles from April's home town of Machynlleth.

Welsh Police Officers search outside a house believed to be Mark Bridger's last residence Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

April was last seen around 7pm on Monday evening. She had been playing with friends near some garages close to her home on the quiet Bryn-y-gog estate in Machynlleth.

Child witnesses say April was seen getting into the driver seat of a car before it drove off.

Police are appealing for anyone with information to contact them by dialling 0300 2000 333.