Search for April Jones' remains will continue if Mark Bridger gives up information

Senior investigating officer says police have not given up hope that one day April's remains will be recovered

The search for April Jones's remains will resume if new information is disclosed by killer Mark Bridger, police have pledged.

The five-year-old's abduction sparked the largest search operation in British policing history.

The effort to return April to her family, codenamed Operation Tempest, lasted almost eight months and involved 17 police teams scouring 32sq km of countryside.

The terrain of winding rivers, mountainous valleys and deep mine shafts and caves, made it a “unique challenge”, the officer who led Tempest said.

Around 16,000 officer search days were dedicated to finding April, involving police from 47 forces across the UK, and volunteers from around the world. He said it was the largest deployment of UK officers since the Lockerbie disaster.

Inspector Gareth Thomas, the search coordinator for Dyfed-Powys Police, said: “The driving force for us has always been to find April and reunite her with her family.

“That was the priority right from the start and that's what was motivating all those officers who came to help from all over the country and further afield.”

He said due to the fact that Bridger painted himself as an “Andy McNab or Bear Grylls wannabe” that meant he could have had intimate knowledge of area, making every cave, stream, mineshaft, ditch and quarry a search area.

Mr Thomas said it was with “immense disappointment” that the search was concluded last month.

“During the course of the search I honestly believed that we would find April. It's an immense disappointment that we have been unable to return April to her family,” he added.

The search began on the night of October 1 last year with a handful of concerned neighbours on the Bryn-y-Gog estate, soon joined by hundreds of members of the public who came from far and wide as word spread on news and social media.

The realisation, following Mark Bridger's arrest, that April would not be found alive was shattering news for all involved.

Detective Superintendent Andy John, the senior investigating officer, said: “There was a feeling of extreme disappointment because everybody approached the investigation from the outset in the hope that we were going to find April safe and well.”

Describing the reaction of April's parents, Paul and Coral, he added: “The vast majority of people could never begin to imagine what they have had to go through and continue to go through because, as we all know, they still haven't had their daughter or their daughter's remains returned to them.”

Mr John said police have not given up hope that one day April's remains will be recovered.

“My message to Mark Bridger is quite clear, he needs to tell Paul and Coral Jones, and the family of April what he has done with their daughter,” he said.

Mr Thomas added: “As soon as we have any more intelligence or information we will recommence the search.”

PA

Further reading:

Mark Bridger found guilty of murder and abduction of April Jones

Profile: Mark Bridger was an alcoholic paedophile who lived out sexual fantasies on the internet

Bridger's cottage should 'no longer exist', say April Jones' parents

April had a 'tantrum' so she could play out with friends on the night of her abduction

The search for April Jones in numbers

Mark Bridger watched brutal rape film before murdering April

Psychologist: 'Mark Bridger could take years to reveal what happened to April Jones'