April Jones trial: 'No evidence of car collision'

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Media captionMark Bridger claims he accidentally ran April over in his Land Rover

A forensics expert said there was no evidence the man accused of murdering five-year-old April Jones knocked her over in his Land Rover.

Mark Bridger, 47, of Ceinws, Powys, who denies murdering and abducting April, claims he accidentally ran her over.

But Mold Crown Court heard there was no damage to his vehicle to support his claims.

April went missing while playing near her home in Machynlleth on 1 October 2012 and has never been found.

It sparked the largest police search in UK history.

The prosecution claims Mr Bridger murdered April, who had mild cerebral palsy, in a sexually motivated attack.

Mr Bridger told police during interviews he had hit her with his vehicle, the jury has heard.

He claims he cannot remember what he did with her body because he was drunk.

The jury has previously been told that April's blood was found in several locations around Mr Bridger's home.

On Tuesday, the court heard from forensics scientist Roderick McKenzie Stewart, who examined Mr Bridger's Land Rover Discovery.

"I was looking for signs of recent damage which could indicate a collision with a person or another object such as a bicycle," he said.

Image caption April Jones's disappearance sparked the largest police search in UK history

He said he carried out a "very thorough examination" and none of the damage on the vehicle was recent.

He also examined two bicycles and said there was no evidence either had been involved in a forceful collision with a vehicle.

If the Land Rover had collided with a person or another vehicle, the witness said he would have seen "something there".

Mr Bridger's vehicle "weighs two tonnes, it's going to do a lot of damage", he said.

Cross examined by defence counsel Brendan Kelly QC, he said he "saw no fibres on any of the tyres".

Mr Kelly asked whether fibres could be retained in the wheel if the vehicle had been driven in wet conditions for about 15 miles.

The forensics scientist said fibres could be trapped in certain areas and could remain there for a long time.

Mr Kelly questioned the thoroughness of the examination but the witness said he had been doing the job for a "very long time".

Serious collisions

Mr Stewart said he would have expected to have found pieces of fabric embedded in the tyres or wheel arches if the car had gone over a child.

A police officer who specialises in investigating serious collisions said he also "could find no evidence of any obvious contact between a pedestrian and the vehicle".

Mr Kelly said no checks were made for "tiny" fibres that would not be obvious to the naked eye.

PC Gary Rees confirmed the tyres were not "taped" for fibres.

The court also heard evidence about what had been found during an examination of Mr Bridger's laptop.

Mervyn Ray, manager of the hi-tech crime unit at Dyfed-Powys Police, said there was evidence of a lot of searching for "underage and sexual material" and there were folders which amounted to a "library" of material.

Earlier on Tuesday, proceedings opened with the jury hearing evidence from Patricia Foley, a senior crime scene investigator with North Wales Police who examined Mr Bridger's home.

She described how a chemical was used at the house to detect if blood was present.

Image caption Mark Bridger denies abducting and murdering April Jones

Mr Bridger stared at the floor as the witness described blood being found on his carpet and in grout on floor tiles.

Mr Kelly suggested the chemical used in the testing could also have reacted to cleaning products rather than blood.

But Ms Foley said she was satisfied the tests were consistent with blood being present.

The jury asked more about April's DNA match probability and the judge explained it was not like bookmakers' odds.

He said "the chance of finding the same DNA profile from a person unrelated to April is one in a billion".

It was accepted that it was April's blood, he added.

The jury also heard from fingerprint experts who examined Mr Bridger's house and car.

Some of the fingerprints in the defendant's Land Rover were said to be consistent with children but none matched those taken by experts from April's school books and home.

Later, the court was told that Michael Keyte, a scenes of crime officer for Dyfed-Powys Police, did not examine the site of the alleged abduction on the Bryn-Y-Gog estate because of a misunderstanding.

Mr Kelly then suggested the scene had not been examined at all.

The trial has been adjourned until Wednesday morning.

On Monday, the jury heard April's blood was found in the living room, hallway and bathroom of Mr Bridger's home.

Evidence suggested she had been lying on the floor near the fireplace "for some period of time", the jury heard.

The evidence pointed to attempts being made to remove or clean up the blood, the court was told.

Mr Bridger also denies intending to pervert the course of justice.

The case continues.