Blood, bone in accused’s home ‘linked to April’

Blood and bone were found at the home of a former abattoir worker accused of abducting and murdering schoolgirl April Jones, a court has heard.

The accused also had “a clear interest in child pornography and in child murder cases”.

Mark Bridger, 47, is on trial at Mold Crown Court accused of murdering the five-year-old and then playing a “cruel game” in an attempt to cover his tracks.

The court heard there was a “sexual motive” to the murder and that investigators found numerous indecent images on the defendant’s laptop, as well as pictures of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman from the Soham murder case.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Elwen Evans QC, told the jury: “In addition to child pornography and photos of young girls, the defendant also had an interest in child murder and rape cases; for example, images of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman from the Soham case.

“Why will you need to consider this sort of material? You will have to decide whether pretty five-year-old April was abducted and murdered or run over by accident and killed, as the defendant says.

“We say his interest in pornography, young girls, rape and murder cases is all too relevant and you may see it as the key to understanding what he did and why he did what he did.”

The court was told that Bridger was seen putting April in his Land Rover.

Miss Evans said on the day April was abducted she was “happy and smiling” when she was seen getting into Bridger’s car by her friend who also saw Bridger speaking to the child, the court heard. She said: “He drove her away and that was the last that anyone, apart from the defendant, saw of April.” Her disappearance sparked “the largest search in British history”. April vanished while playing on her bike near her home in Machynlleth, Mid Wales, on Oct 1 last year and her body has never been found.

Miss Evans said: “It’s the defendant’s case that he admits he drove her away. He admits that April is dead. He accepts he killed her, or probably killed her.

“He accepts that he must have got rid of her body.”

But Miss Evans said Bridger has not told police where the body is. Miss Evans added: “He has played, we say, a cruel game in pretending not to know what he has done to her.”

Bridger, wearing a light blue short-sleeved shirt and striped tie, sat staring ahead as he listened to the evidence. The defendant, of Ceinws, denies abducting and murdering April, and unlawfully disposing of and concealing her body with intent to pervert the course of justice.

The jury was told it will hear eyewitness accounts and be told of phone, CCTV and DNA evidence from his house.

Miss Evans said Bridger claims to police he ran over April in his Land Rover, put her in his car and drove her around the village with her “dead or dying” in his car.

She went on: “Thereafter he doesn’t know, he can’t remember what he did to April.

“He can’t remember because of a combination of drink, adrenaline and raw panic.”

The jury heard some of the search terms found on Bridger’s laptop included “Naked young five-year-old girls” and “nudism five-year-old” and “France: British schoolgirl raped and murdered”.

Miss Evans said bone fragments consistent with being from a juvenile skull were found around the hearth at Bridger’s home.

When police searched former abattoir slaughterman Bridger’s house he had carried out an “extensive clean up” — but failed to get rid of all the evidence.

Traces of blood were found in the living room, hallway and bathroom – and it matched April’s DNA.

There was a concentration of blood found around the wood burner in the living room, the jury heard.

Around the wood burner were a number of knives, including a boning knife, which was badly burnt.

Miss Evans told the court April was “of slight build’, and that she lived with her mother Coral and father Paul.

The court heard April went to school near her home.

The jury was shown a photo of the cottage where Bridger lived — and where April’s blood and DNA were found.

“This is the house where the blood, the bone fragments were found. That cottage is three miles from Machynlleth, called Mount Pleasant, and situated very close above the river there,” the prosecutor said.

Bridger wiped tears from his eyes and took deep breaths as the court was played a harrowing 999 call made by April’s mother Coral Jones.

Mrs Jones could be heard saying: “Please... please my daughter has been kidnapped... my daughter.”

The call was then taken over by a neighbour who said: “Apparently what happened... she has gone off in a car with somebody. Somebody has picked her up in a car or something. I have not seen anything, I have just been told.”

The neighbour then tells the police operator that April was taken in a “big grey car that a man was driving”.

As the call was played some members of the jury appeared physically upset by it.

Bridger shook his head, holding back tears.

He took a deep breath and wiped tears from his eyes.

The trial continues.


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