April Jones mother: I was frantic trying to find her

April Jones mother: I was frantic trying to find her
Coral Jones passes poster of accused Mark Bridger

A UK jury has heard of the frantic moments when the parents of April Jones learned that their five-year-old daughter was missing.

The police statements of Coral and Paul Jones were read to the trial of Mark Bridger, who is accused of abducting and murdering the schoolgirl.

The statements, read at Mold Crown Court by Elwen Evans QC, prosecuting, began by outlining the family's day on October 1.

After April was collected from school, she was taken by her mother for a swimming lesson before they returned home for a tea of spaghetti on toast.

After she had watched her favourite Disney film, April asked to go out and play on her bike with a friend, her mother said.

Mrs Jones, 43, said: "Paul and I said no, she wanted to take her bike to her friend's next door.

"She kept on and on and had a little tantrum and I eventually gave in so she went next door to play.

"I told her I didn't want her out for long. I think it was about 7pm and that was the last time I saw her."

Twenty minutes later, Mrs Jones sent April's older brother out to collect his sister as "it was getting dark and a little colder".

"Within a very short time he came running home and he was in a hysterical state.

"When I calmed him down he said that April's friend had seen her getting into a car with a man and that she had gone.

"I immediately went over and asked April's friend what she had seen.

"I was told that April had got into a car with a man and he had driven off."

Mrs Jones called the police straight away.

"I was so upset I do not remember much of what was said," she added.

"I think I spoke to the police for a little while then gave the phone to my friend.

"I went out and searched around the estate, everywhere I could think of. I even looked in the bins.

"I asked a friend to drive me around in my car.

"I was frantic, trying to find her.

"The police turned up very quickly and then I was answering questions about her."

Bridger, of Ceinws, mid-Wales, denies abduction, murder and intending to pervert the course of justice by disposing of, concealing or destroying April's body.

The prosecution say he snatched and murdered April near her home in Machynlleth, in a "sexually motivated" attack.

Bridger, who wiped tears from his eyes throughout the reading of the statements today, says he accidentally killed April when he ran her over and does not remember what he did with her body.

Mrs Jones, who made her statement on October 8, said April was “aware of strangers'' and knew not to go off with anybody she did not know.

“I can’t understand why she would go into someone’s car that she doesn’t know,” she added.

“I would describe her as a happy-go-lucky little girl, she does play up sometimes like any child of her age.”

In his statement, made on the same day, Paul Jones, 41, said April had had “a little paddy” when she wanted to play outside.

“I suppose we just gave in and she was told she could only go out for a short while,” he added.

“She is quite stubborn when she gets something in her mind.

“What happened after that is all a little blurry, if I’m honest.

“At about 7.20pm Coral sent April’s brother out to fetch her.

“He came back and he was very upset – he was crying and he said that someone had taken April and that she had got into someone’s car.

“We rang the police and Coral went out to search. I felt so helpless. I went to speak to April’s friend who said something about a van.

“When she said that, I went around the corner to look. I then went back home and I just paced.

“I think that I just paced up and down, waiting for any news, for about 24 hours.

“I know that I didn’t sleep for about 24 hours.”

He said he only slept once he had been prescribed sleeping pills by the doctor.

He added: “I felt guilty because people were out looking for her and I was sleeping.”

Mr Jones said he had known Bridger since about 1992 when the defendant was dating the sister of his then girlfriend.

“(Bridger) was around 32 and she was about 15, so I remember thinking that she was a little young for him – he was twice her age,” he said.

“He seemed a pleasant bloke and was always a good talker.

“I remember we used to go out in his rally car, an Astra GTi with bucket seats.

“He used to drive it like a maniac and was a risk-taker.

“I remember that he once went around a blind bend at speed and was not concerned at all.”

Mr Jones said that at the time Bridger was working for Motorworld and suggested he may have been stealing from the retailer.

He said the defendant had spark plugs and engine oil in his garage which he would “sell to people”.

He said he also remembered that he had loaned Bridger a book on SAS survival techniques.

“He saw that I had the book and he took an interest in it,” he said.

“It had things like how to survive in the outdoors for long periods of time and what sort of plants you can eat.”

Mr Jones said he eventually retrieved the book from Bridger’s bookshelf after the defendant failed to return it and they saw little of each other once their relationships with the sisters ended.

He said: “I can’t think of any reason why Mark Bridger would take April, he is a father too.

“I don’t understand why he would do this to her.”

Mrs Jones said she may have known Bridger some years earlier, when she had played darts at a local pub.

She added: “I don’t know very much about him. I would acknowledge him in the street if I saw him but that’s about it.”

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