Parents let April out after tantrum, court hears

April Jones: Abducted and murdered. Picture: PA

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

It also emerged Mark Bridger, 47, who is accused of abducting and murdering the schoolgirl, also made contact with April’s older sister through Facebook when she was 14.

The statements of Coral and Paul Jones were read by Elwen Evans, prosecuting, during the murder trial at Mold Crown Court.

They began by outlining the family’s day on Oct 1.

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’s called the police straight away.

“I was so upset I do not remember much of what was said. 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 as the statements were read out, says he accidentally killed April when he ran her over and does not remember what he did with her body.

In his statement, Paul Jones, 41, said April had had “a little paddy” (tantrum) 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.

After she went missing he said he couldn’t sleep and 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.”

Mrs Jones said Bridger made contact with her elder daughter, then aged around 14, on Facebook about two years ago. In the message he told the girl: “I used to know your mother through playing darts.”

Mrs Jones said: “I told her not to be his Facebook friend, I told her not to accept it.”

In her statement to police, April’s sister recounted the Facebook messages from Bridger. She said they took place in Jun 2011 and she responded to the friend request with a message saying: “Hello, who are you? I don’t know you.”

The jury heard Bridger responded: “I played darts with your mum many years ago.” He added that he had known Mr Jones for “many years”.

The teenager replied: “Yeah, I am her daughter and yeah, he is my dad but I’m still not too sure who you are and why you are adding me.”

Bridger tried to explain further connections with the Jones family, the court heard, and the teenager replied: “Yeah, but that still doesn’t tell me why you are adding me.

“You know my mum and dad, I don’t know you.”

Bridger’s reply was that he was “just trying to find old friends”, the court heard.

The girl confirmed to the police that she never accepted the Facebook request.

The trial continues.

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