April Jones case: Evidence points 'overwhelmingly' to guilt, court told
- 28 May 2013
- From the section Wales
Evidence against a man accused of murdering five-year-old April Jones "overwhelmingly" points to his guilt, a jury has been told.
Mark Bridger, 47, of Ceinws, Powys, denies abducting and murdering April, who went missing near her Machynlleth home on 1 October 2012.
In her closing speech, prosecutor Elwen Evans QC, told Mold Crown Court Mr Bridger's account of events was "totally incredible".
The prosecution has claimed Mr Bridger murdered April in a sexually motivated attack and disposed of her body so that she could not be found despite the largest police search in UK history.
The defence claims April died after the defendant accidentally knocked her over with his Land Rover while she played with a friend near her home on the Bryn-Y-Gog estate.
But he said he "panicked" and, partly because of the amount of alcohol he had consumed, cannot remember where he put her body.
On Tuesday, Ms Evans told the jury that "ultimate responsibility is yours and yours alone".
"Putting aside emotion, putting aside sympathy, prejudice..." the evidence "overwhelmingly leads to the conclusion" that the defendant is guilty of all three counts.
She said only someone who had sat through every day of the case and heard all the evidence could "truly assess the nature of the defendant's evidence".
While Mr Bridger was "sitting there in the spotlight of the witness box", she said some of his accounts had been "quite frankly shocking".
She said the prosecution case was that he had tried to "concoct such a story to try and cover up what he has done".
Ms Evans said: "This is a man who over 20 years ago... decided to create a whole new lie for himself, a whole new life for himself.
"He came up with a false identity, embroidered it... the lie, the fabricated fantasy that he had been a soldier of some skill, a mercenary of some skill, was a story he advanced for his own benefit and it was a lie that was advanced to everyone."
"There were other substantial lies," she added.
"He wrote his parents out of the script. He was to say to the police in his interviews that he had not had contact with them for a long time so it was easier to say that they'd died."
Ms Evans said Mr Bridger, who looked straight at the prosecutor all morning as she addressed the jury, had been prepared to "manipulate his story or his account".
Referring to one of his responses in cross-examination, she quoted him as saying: "What was I supposed to do, change my story halfway through?"
She added: "He changed his story when he gave his evidence to you. He did that because he knew evidentially the game was up on that issue."
Ms Evans went on to say that on the day that April disappeared, Mr Bridger "had gone to significant lengths to lie about any involvement".
She said the evidence "most glaringly under attack" had been that of April's seven-year-old friend.
"Imagine the frustration for the defendant that in effect his whole story... is laid waste effectively by the evidence of a seven-year-old girl... and of course you will need to assess and evaluate her evidence bearing in mind her age," said Ms Evans.
"The defendant himself made a very interesting comment about her, again in the course of cross-examination... he said she was mistaken about the colour; about the number of doors. But she had lied about how April had got into the car."
"If you conclude that [April's friend] is telling the truth then that is the end of the defendant's lie, fabrication, fantasy.
"If she, April, got into the defendant's car and if she did so smiling, that's it... and you may think in a case where there have been some impressive witnesses, that actually little [April's friend] has been one of the most impressive witnesses, all seven years of her," she added.
She recalled the words of the friend: "She got in the van having a happy face... and she wasn't upset... the man didn't put her in the car but she did. She wasn't crying, she was happy."
Ms Evans added: "Why on earth should April's friend make up that story?"
She also gave more examples of the seven-year-old's evidence and added: "The totality of [April's friend's] evidence is powerful and compelling evidence in this case."
She said that "the reality here is that if the defendant abducted April... if she got into his car with a smiling face, uninjured... then his conviction on all three of the counts on this indictment follows".
"There can be no suggestion that her death was anything other than murder," she said.
Ms Evans said the jury "may think that the defendant has sought to significantly exaggerate his level of intoxication". She said he had a detailed recollection of what occurred by the garages but it "totally disappears" within minutes.
She said that whatever he did that night, it involved "laying her down in front of the fire, involves the spilling of April's blood, involves the cleaning up, involves placing some items in the fireplace, involves removing any trace... involves disposing of her body so completely that the biggest police search in British history has failed to find her".
She added: "Yes, he may well have been drinking... but a drunken intent is still an intent".
She said Mr Bridger's claim to have picked April up, putting her in the car and performing life saving techniques - rather than calling for help - was "totally incredible".
The defendant had given a "graphic account of April's last breath", said Ms Evans.
She referred to "forensic scientific evidence in the car - significant of course because there is in effect no forensic scientific evidence in the car" to support his claim of having ran April over.
She said that "undoubtedly the defendant is acutely aware of forensic scientific issues" and had been "coming up with all sorts of excuses", such as having given April mouth-to-mouth to explain how her DNA was found on him.
The defendant thought he had "got rid of each and every trace of April from the house", she said.
She referred to the evidence of one of the experts who believed the large blood stain on the carpet at his home indicated "prolonged contact" with the source of April's blood.
Ms Evans said the discovery of bone fragments in his fireplace could not explain what had happened to the remainder of April's body.
She added: "I started my questions to the defendant in the way I finished... where did you put April, where is she? That question remains unanswered. Why he did it is all too clearly answered.
"So far as April's body is concerned... the evidence of the search again shows us that another aspect of the defendant's account is wrong.
"His account is 'I left her somewhere because I wanted her to be found'... the evidence of the search... clearly shows that this disposal of the body... left no trace for any of the searches," she added.
Moving on to computer evidence, she said Mr Bridger had an interest in young girls and an interest in real life crime. She said these two factors taken together painted "a very powerful picture".
Concluding, she said the case would be "decided by the evidence and what you make of that evidence... the evidence is for you, the verdicts are for you but you know that our submission... is that the evidence in this case points to one and only one conclusion... that this defendant, Mark Bridger, is guilty to counts one, two and three on the indictment".
Mr Bridger also denies intending to pervert the course of justice.
His defence team addressed the jury on Tuesday afternoon.
The case continues.