Bridger appears in court as family ties to April revealed

Man accused of killing five-year-old girl is remanded in custody as search continues

The man charged with the abduction and murder of five-year-old April Jones is uncle to her two older half-sisters, it has emerged.

Police have been studying the links between Mark Bridger, who appeared before Caernarfon Crown Court, North Wales, via videolink yesterday, and the missing girl's family.

According to local reports, Mr Bridger and April's father, Paul Jones, had children from previous relationships with sisters Elaine Dafydd and Karen Griffiths.

The cousins grew up with April in Machynlleth, Mid Wales, and have been involved in the search for her since she disappeared 10 days ago, describing the youngster on Facebook as their "little sister".

Police have refused to confirm details of the relationship between Mr Bridger and April.

Mr Bridger, a 46-year-old former lifeguard, is accused of abducting and murdering April, and of unlawfully disposing of and concealing her body with intent to pervert the course of justice.

He wore a beard, thin-rimmed glasses and a black jumper and sat in front of a grey curtain during the 20-minute hearing in which he answered the clerk's questions by responding: "Yes ma'am."

He was remanded in custody and no application for bail was made. The court heard that the prosecution had been given notice of Mr Bridger's "likely defence" which had been taken in interviews.

Some of the witnesses in the case will be as young as seven, the court heard. The judge, Mr Justice Griffith-Williams, said a decision about the location of the future trial would be made after consultation with the victim's family.

The case was adjourned until January 11 while investigations continue. Elwen Evans QC, prosecuting, said forensic and other "extensive investigations" were continuing "apace" and the judge agreed that "matters may develop".

April was last seen near her home on the Bryn-y-Gog estate in the Mid Wales town on Monday evening last week. The search continued yesterday with teams scouring the hills and rivers surrounding Machynlleth. Police cordoned off a caravan close to Mr Bridger's home and searched a clearing just a few hundred metres from Ceinws, where he rented a house.

Ms Griffiths, mother to April's half-sisters, said: "The past week has been very hard and the community support for the family has been overwhelming. We are trying to focus all our energy on finding little April and staying strong for all the family members."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
A picture taken on February 11, 2014 at people walking at sunrise on the Trocadero Esplanade, also known as the Parvis des droits de l'homme (Parvis of Human Rights), in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
Scientists believe Mercury is coated in billions of years’ worth of carbon dust, after being ‘dumped on’ by passing comets
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor