George Monbiot has written a moving piece in the Guardian today about the tragic loss of little April Jones and the effect it's had on their community. As he so rightly says, now that the trial is over, Mark Bridger convicted and sentenced to a Whole Life term of imprisonment, the healing can begin.
I also felt moved to write about this sad case last October and made the point that a probation officer would almost certainly have been allocated the case right from first remand. Cases like this touch people and for that officer now charged with preparing the Post Life Sentence Report, I made the point that we should return to the practice of allocating such an officer a 'pair' both for support and to provide a degree of continuity through a very long sentence.
It's quite clear to me that Mark Bridger will continue to try and exercise a degree of cruel control by denying the police and family details as to the whereabouts of April's body. Some people we are required to work with tax our professional integrity and moral compass to the limits and I'm sure this man will pose any officer many sleepless nights.
Long after the police attention has waned, they will be engaging in a regular intellectual, moral and philosophical battle with him, all the while conscious of the inherent danger of falling victim to his cynical manipulation. We've seen this with Ian Brady and the so-called mental health advocate, and today we read of Bridger's 'confession' to a priest at HMP Manchester while he was on remand.
Just imagine the moral dilemma and anguish this priest was put through in having to make a decision between respecting the sanctity of 'conversations' (not a Confession we are told) on the one hand, with the moral and civic duty of reporting the content to the police on the other. Bridger would know this of course and as with Brady, it just represents another twist in the utterly cruel game of holding out false hope to those desperate in wanting to bury their loved one.
My heart goes out to April's parents who have remained dignified throughout.