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Machynlleth: A town respectfully trying to get back into the step of normality

The head-lines will change on the newspaper boards outside the convenience store which will sell beach-balls and toys again. Photo: ITV News/ Alastair Stewart

"So that means he never comes out? Good."

I met Mercia Hammond, who runs the beautiful Royal House tea shop, when I first came to Machynlleth in October. She had moved here from Wolverhampton because it was safer.

At 3pm today, after sentence had been passed, I sought her out again for her reaction. You can hear more than the simple response, on the ITV News at 6:30 pm.

I didn't sense a community 'holding its breath' before the verdict was handed down just before lunch. In my experience communities don't act in that amorphous way. Nor, as I walked through the town after sentencing was done, was there any palpable reaction.

What struck me was a town respectfully trying to get back into the step of normality.

As Mercia says, "It will be impossible for April's mum and dad, but the rest of us have to try."

"It will be impossible for April's mum and dad, but the rest of us have to try." Paul and Coral Jones arrive at Mold Crown Court. Credit: ITV News/ Alastair Stewart

The comradeship of searching, the mutual support of a community at its best, the passionate prayer that April might be found - fine memories that will linger, I suspect, for a long-time.

The hideous realisation that a man who could visit such cold, calculating evil on a quiet back-water of a market town I fear will linger even longer.

The pink ribbons that are literally everywhere? I don't know. But who would be so bold, even so callous, to take down even one?

The pink ribbons that are literally everywhere - who would be so bold to take down even one? Credit: ITV News/ Alastair Stewart

The head-lines will change on the newspaper boards outside the convenience store which will sell beach-balls and toys again.

But never to April.

As her mother said, so movingly in her impact statement, there will be much that will never be. From her first love to a walk down the aisle, perhaps?

Late evening trysts and stern talkings-to by loving but responsible parents.

Heart-break at wrong choices and euphoria at the right calls - all stolen, denied and made impossible by an evil man.

'So that means he never comes out? Good'.

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