April Jones case: Evidence in trial of Mark Bridger ends

Mark Bridger, 47, of Ceinws, Powys, denies abducting and murdering April, who went missing near her Machynlleth home on 1 October 2012

Evidence in the trial of a man accused of murdering five-year-old April Jones in a sexually motivated attack has concluded.

Mark Bridger, 47, of Ceinws, Powys, denies abducting and murdering April, who went missing near her Machynlleth home on 1 October 2012.

April's parents Coral and Paul hugged as the defence case ended at Mold Crown Court.

The judge told the jury it was now a "very important" stage of the trial.

The case will continue on Tuesday, after the bank holiday, and the judge said he expected to sum up the case on Wednesday.

Mr Bridger claims he accidentally knocked April over with his Land Rover but cannot remember what he did with her body because he had panicked and had drunk too much.

The prosecution said he had told a "web of lies" to cover up what he had done.

April Jones Mark Bridger has told the court he cannot remember where he put April Jones's body

The court has heard April has never been found despite the largest police search in UK history.

The jury has been told her blood was found at several places in Mr Bridger's home and fragments of human skull were found in his fire.

During his third-day of cross-examination on Friday, Mr Bridger was asked by prosecutor Elwen Evans QC about a black bin bag that a witness had seen him carrying in a lay-by near his home the day after April went missing.

He told the court he was "carrying a bag, there was nothing in it".

Ms Evans: "Something in it?"

Mr Bridger: "No. There was nothing in that bag, nothing at all."

Ms Evans: "The reason you stopped there Mr Bridger?"

Mr Bridger: "To go to the toilet, to go for a wee."

During his evidence, April's mother Coral left the court looking visibly upset.

Ms Evans had started Friday's cross-examination by asking Mr Bridger why he had lied to police about inviting a young girl for a sleepover with his daughter on the night April disappeared.

He told the court that he had forgotten at the time about speaking to her. He has previously told the jury he had spoken to her.

Asked if he was reading a newspaper and lying down in his Land Rover when the girl saw him, he said he never bought newspapers and was not lying down.

He said he may have bent to retrieve a Scantronic radio device that he has previously told the court was a personal alarm.

He also said he did not have a walkie-talkie as the witness had described. The court was told the Scantronic device may have looked like a walkie-talkie.

Morning after

Mr Bridger was later asked what state he was in at about 08:30 on the morning after April's disappearance.

"I'm in a completely different state to normal... the realism of me killing a child is with me as well... I'm upset, I have had a drink, I have got to find out what happened... it's slightly different to a normal morning," he said.

Ms Evans: "Slightly different to a normal morning, is that really the answer you want to give to this jury?"

Mr Bridger: "No, no."

Mark Bridger was shown footage of him walking his dog the day after April went missing

Questioned about his knowledge of a huge search under way on the Tuesday morning, he said he "didn't know there was a huge search".

Ms Evans: "Your story, you are responsible for killing her?"

Mr Bridger: "Yes."

Ms Evans: "You are responsible for taking her from Bryn-Y-Gog (the estate where April lived)?"

Mr Bridger: "Yes.

Ms Evans: "What did you think her parents would be feeling?"

Mr Bridger: "...I didn't know that I had taken her back to mine."

Ms Evans: "What did you, Mark Bridger, what did you think her parents would be thinking?"

Mr Bridger: "I cannot even start to understand what they were going through but at that time I did not know that April had not been found."

Start Quote

I'm out looking... I have my stick in one hand I have my torch around my neck”

End Quote Mark Bridger

There followed an exchange between Ms Evans and Mr Bridger in which the judge asked him whether he had recognised the girl as April Jones at the time of the incident. Mr Bridger said he had not recognised her at all.

When Ms Evans suggested he had not even bothered to find out who she was, he replied: "What was I supposed to do?"

Mr Bridger was asked to view the helicopter footage of him walking his dog at about 10:30 on the morning after April went missing.

Ms Evans: "That's you panicking is it?"

Mr Bridger: "I'm out looking... I have my stick in one hand I have my torch around my neck."

Ms Evans: "That's you in the state you were in that morning is it?"

Mr Bridger: "I don't know whether I was crying... I don't know."

He added: "It's not unusual to have helicopters or aeroplanes up there."

Ms Evans: "You don't even look up at the helicopter do you?"

Mr Bridger: "It's not unusual."

Ms Evans: "There's a helicopter above your head."

Mr Bridger: "It doesn't necessarily mean I saw it or heard it... they could been a quarter of a mile in the air."

Collision

In a later exchange about the moment he discovered a Land Rover was being sought by police, he said: "I have to be very careful how I state it to you because you twist... to make it sound as if I'm lying."

He said he "could've run" but didn't, adding: "I could've borrowed a car, I didn't".

Later, he was asked about the spot by the garages where the court has heard he parked on the estate and which he had earlier described as "secluded".

Asked if it was as secluded a spot as he could find, he replied: "No. Everyone knew my car, every knows me."

He was also asked whether April had been crushed by his car. "She was pinned under my wheel," he said.

Start Quote

If I'm abducting a child why has this child walked around my car checking the doors... I'm supposedly abducting a child, why have I not picked her up and thrown her in the car?”

End Quote Mark Bridger

He continued: "I had my hand on her chest at one point and it didn't feel the same... she had been crushed by the wheel of my car."

He was pressed on when he heard her last "gasp".

He said: "I had just crushed and killed a little girl, I don't know exactly... when I went underneath and picked the little girl up from underneath my car... I can't say 100%... I had just crushed and killed a little girl, or believe to have killed a little girl, I had her in my arms."

There was a tense exchange between Ms Evans and Mr Bridger over how April would have got into his car.

"April could not physically get into that car, impossible," he said.

He continued: "If I'm abducting a child why has this child walked around my car checking the doors... I'm supposedly abducting a child, why have I not picked her up and thrown her in the car?"

Ms Evans suggested he was at the time trying to be charming.

Mr Bridger: "Ridiculous, ridiculous. Why didn't I put her in the boot, why didn't I open the door and cover her up?"

The judge interrupted and said: "Mr Bridger I have asked you please don't argue your case, please just answer the questions."

Ms Evans later looked at different points of the defendant's evidence and put it to Mr Bridger that his whole story about crushing April with his car was a lie.

Mr Bridger: "No."

Ms Evans: "Or a fabrication?"

Mr Bridger: "No."

Ms Evans: "Or a fantasy, using your vocabulary?"

Mr Bridger: "No."

Ms Evans: "Your actions that night were clearly directed actions."

Mr Bridger: "No."

'Disposed of her body'

Ms Evans: "Whether you had been drinking or not you knew what you were doing?"

Mr Bridger: "No."

He was pressed further, then Ms Evans told the court he had abducted April.

Mr Bridger: "No, no, I had no reason to abduct April at all."

Ms Evans: "What did you say to her to get her into the car?"

Mr Bridger: "I never spoke to April."

He was then asked by Ms Evans: "You have a sexual interest in young children."

Mr Bridger: "No."

Ms Evans: "And having murdered her you disposed of her body."

Mr Bridger: "I have placed her body somewhere yes."

He denied cleaning up his house.

Shortly afterwards, Ms Evans asked: "Can I ask you this just for the very last time, what did you do with April?"

Mr Bridger: "I crushed her (underneath the car)."

Ms Evans: "What did you do with April's body?"

Mr Bridger: "I don't know, I don't know."

Ms Evans: "Please just take a moment to focus."

Mr Bridger: "I have done for the last nine months."

Ms Evans: "And what answer have you come up with?"

Mr Bridger: "I don't have an answer, I'm sorry."

Following Ms Evans's cross-examination, Mr Bridger was asked by his defence lawyer Brendan Kelly QC when he first remembered laying April on his lounge floor.

He responded: "I can't give an exact... in the last couple of months there are things that... I have tried relaxation and things in myself... there was a recollection of things that have happened..."

Mr Kelly later formally closed the defence case and the court was told no more evidence would be heard on Friday.

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