Search for missing child April Jones set to cost £2.4m

 

The spiralling cost of the continued hunt for missing April Jones is set to come in at as much as £2.4 million.

Five-year-old April was last seen playing out on her bike close to her home in Machynlleth, mid Wales, on the evening of October 1.

It is now more than 11 weeks since the schoolgirl was snatched from the close-knit Bryn-y-Gog estate where she lived.

She had been allowed to play out late on her bike after getting a glowing report from school earlier that evening.

Parents Coral and Paul Jones spoke last week of their intense pain at realising they will never see their daughter alive again.

Hopes are now pinned on simply finding the body of April to allow her family and the greater community some form of closure.

Dyfed Powys Police has vowed to carry on the search for April into 2013 despite taking a two-week break over the festive period.

Superintendent Ian John, who is heading the search, has said it will continue on the same scale and with equal numbers into the new year.

Massive efforts to find April's body in the rugged terrain around the town where she lived have continued unabated since her disappearance.

The rising bill for those search efforts, comprising thousands of man hours, could come in at £2.4 million.

Dyfed Powys Police has confirmed that it lodged an application for a special grant to cover the exceptional expense of the ongoing search.

The Home Office has agreed to grant the force the money it needs, up to £2.4 million, subject to it being scrutinised in detail.

"The Home Office has agreed in principle to fund a special grant application to support the investigation into the search for April Jones," a Home Office spokesman said.

"The investigation is ongoing but the anticipated costs are expected to be in the region of £1.8m - £2.4m.

"The grant is subject to receiving final costs which will be scrutinised by HMIC after which a final decision will be taken."

Mark Bridger, 46, has been charged with the murder of April. He is also charged with child abduction and perverting the course of justice.

He is due to appear at Caernarfon Crown Court on January 11 for a plea hearing.

PA

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