Police call off the search for missing April Jones

The search - one of the largest in UK history - was due to end this month

The desperate search for the missing schoolgirl April Jones has been officially called off with officers failing to locate the five-year-old despite one of the largest searches in UK history.

April was last seen almost seven months ago playing on her bicycle near her home in Machynlleth, Powys, last October. Her disappearance prompted a huge outpouring of support for her family with hundreds of people joining one of the largest hunts in British history.

But Dyfed-Powys Police yesterday announced the “exhaustive search operation” had drawn to a close after checks of specific areas of land were completed last Friday.

While officers had long since given up hope of finding the youngster alive, specialist teams continued the search in countryside around her home.

The focus of the early search was a 12-mile stretch of road close to a fast-flowing river near the family home. But within weeks, it had widened to an area of 60 square kilometres with 17 search teams combing the countryside.

Last week, her parents, Coral and Paul Jones, were told they may never get to see April again.

In a statement released after April went missing, her family said their lives had been “shattered when our beautiful little girl April, who was playing with friends, was taken from us”.

It said: “We are devastated and our lives have stopped.”

Less than a week after the girl was last seen alive, Detective Superintendent Reg Bevan confirmed he was leading a murder investigation.

Dyfed-Powys Police has said it will continue to look for April until “all viable lines of inquiry” were exhausted.

A spokesman said: “A reactive team of specialist officers are available to respond to any new information that is received.”

Detectives have charged Mark Bridger, 47, with child abduction, perverting the course of justice and murder. Speaking outside Caernarfon Crown Court, North Wales, where Bridger was charged last October, Karen Griffiths, mother to April’s half-sisters, said: “We are trying to focus all our energy on finding little April and staying strong for all the family members.”

Bridger, who denies the charges, is due to appear at Mold Crown Court next week.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
news
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions