Mark Bridger was an alcoholic paedophile who was infatuated with young girls and who lived out violent sexual fantasies though the internet.
On a chilly autumn evening last October, shortly after going to a parents' evening at his daughter's school, he took April Jones into his Land Rover and made the evil fantasy a reality.
He murdered the five-year-old and disposed of her body. So effective were his efforts at concealing her remains – either by incinerating them in the woodburner at his cottage just a few miles from April's home, or hiding them in the hills and streams of the surrounding mid-Wales countryside – that she was never found, despite the largest search operation ever mounted in British policing history.
Before the murder Bridger was a trusted figure on the Bryn-y-Gog estate where he had had relationships with at least two women and used to invite children over for sleepovers at his house.
The father of six children from four different mothers was also well-known to the Jones family.
Yet they knew nothing of his compulsions – believing him, like many others, to be a former serving officer with the SAS who had trained in exotic locations around the world, a myth he perpetrated after arriving in mid-Wales in the late 1980s. In fact, Bridger had a long criminal record which he had begun to accumulate aged 19.
He had pleaded guilty to offences including attempting to take a car, possession of a firearm, having an imitation firearm, theft and two counts of obtaining property by deception.
But though he was regarded as a drinker with a short and often violent temper, particularly directed against women and on one occasion a fellow motorist in a road rage attack, he was never considered a risk to children or convicted of a sexual offence.
The college dropout had drifted through a series of jobs. After moving to Wales following a row with his family in Surrey, he worked as a lifeguard, a slaughterhouse worker and in forestry.
Bridger insisted throughout that he was not a paedophile, claiming he was impotent as a result of antidepressants and alcohol abuse – telling the court he drank up to 25 cans of cider and a bottle of wine a day.
Despite months of searching, the Jones family do not know where what happened to their daughter's remains – a secret that the man who killed her refuses to disclose.