April Jones: Accused ‘had mental block’ over body

April Jones. Picture: PA
April Jones. Picture: PA
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THE MAN accused of murdering April Jones told police he had a “mental block” about what happened to her body, a jury heard today.

Mark Bridger, 47, also said he “never thought” of calling 999 after he says he ran her over, Mold Crown Court heard.

The jury in Bridger’s trial were hearing transcripts of his police interviews for a second day, read to the court by Paul Hobson, prosecuting, and interviewing officer detective constable Louise Thomas.

Ms Thomas was asking the defendant about events after five-year-old April was last seen playing near her home in Machynlleth, Powys, on the evening of October 1 last year.

Bridger says he accidentally killed the youngster when he ran her over and accepts that he must have got rid of her body but cannot remember how it did it.

“I have been over and over and over again in my mind, what I’ve done and where I’ve been,” he said in his interview.

“I just have a mental block of what happened.”

Referring to April’s parents, Coral and Paul, he added: “I want them to have their daughter.”

He added: “My intention was to get to the hospital and when I got to the hospital in Machynlleth, I then remembered there was no A&E.”

He said he then drove to the town’s clock tower where he parked, to “think about what to do”.

But he added: “I never thought of dialling 999 or 112, I just didn’t think.”

Instead, Bridger said, he drove “back and forward” around the town.

He said he realised April was dead when he put his hand to her chest and saw that “she was flat on the one side and round on the other”.

He said: “That’s when I knew there was more to it.”

He said he was crying and panicking, and thought: “What have I done? I’ve now killed a little girl.”

April, who had cerebral palsy, vanished while playing on her bike with her best friend near their homes on Machynlleth’s Bryn-Y-Gog estate.

Bridger denies abducting and murdering the schoolgirl in a “sexually motivated” attack.

April’s body was never found despite the biggest search operation in British policing history.

Telling the officer about when he was back at his house in Ceinws, in the early hours of the next day, Bridger said: “I can’t remember whether I slept or whether I just blanked out.

“I remember I hugged my dog. I talked to my dog about what happened, I know that sounds stupid.”

At the end of the interview, which took place on October 3, he said: “I would like to say to Paul and Coral, I never meant for this to happen, I never meant to put them through this.

“I have got kids of my own, I have known them for years.”

Ms Thomas replied: “Maybe you can help by trying to remember.”

Bridger, wearing a blue shirt and blue tie, often appeared to be crying and looked to the floor as the evidence about was read out.

In a later interview, again on October 3, he was told the police had a witness who saw April “talking to a man” and then getting into a Land Rover which then drove off.

He said that account was wrong and claimed that a child of April’s size would not have been able to get into the Land Rover without help.

He said: “That is complete fabrication, (the witness) obviously wasn’t there.

“There is no way a girl of that size and petiteness would have been able to get into my vehicle.”

He suggested the police examine his car for April’s fingerprints, adding: “If she was awake or alive at that point, she would have held on, she’d have held things.

“It’s not what happened and obviously you’ve got the vehicle in for forensics.”

Asked about the indecent images found on his laptop computer, he said he had been researching the adolescent development of one of his daughters.

“As a father who spends every weekend with my daughter, I want to know what’s going on.”

He then added: “I’m 95% impotent, did you know that?

“It’s one of the reasons I split up with my ex, because I cannot perform, obviously.”

During his fifth interview, on October 4, Bridger was formally arrested on suspicion of the murder of April and for possession of child pornography.

After a break, he stated: “I didn’t murder the little girl, I didn’t murder her.

“It was an accident.”

He went on to say that the images on his laptop were to investigate “body changes” experienced by his daughter and because he wanted to protest about the availability of child pornography on the internet.

“I couldn’t contain my disgust and I actually wrote letters to the companies,” he said.

Questioned about his background, he said he had spent time in the military and that about “nine or 10” years ago he twice completed a 14-week training programme for the South London Fire Service.

“Were you ever a firefighter, fighting fires?” the officer asked.

“I passed everything, completed the training,” he said, before adding that he had applied to join the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) and the Royal Engineers.

He said he was accepted for REME, and completed 12 weeks’ basic training.

“I excelled in everything, other than the electrical and the mechanical,” he said, adding that his intended specialisms were “knife training and close combat”.

He said he wanted to excel in something else so he studied bomb disposal.

By this time, Bridger told the officer, he had moved to Wales and was living in Blaenau Ffestiniog but the Army wanted to post him to Gloucester.

He said he was approached by “mercenaries” so left the Army, “because of the money”, and spent a lot of time “out of the country”.

The officer asked him to tell her about where he served, and he replied: “Some I can tell you about, some I can’t.”

He listed a number of the countries, including Belize, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Afghanistan.

He said: “Some of it was operational and some of it observational.

“Most of it was mine detection and mine laying.”

He said he was asked to continue these activities but declined, telling the interviewing officer: “I had been asked to go back and do others but obviously I had a young family at this time and I felt I had tried my luck.”

He added that in the course of these activities he had been “shot in the back” and “broken most of the bones” in the left side of his body.

He also said he “smashed two lower vertebrae” in a parachute jump that “went wrong”.

The interview ended with the officer returning to the matter of April’s whereabouts.

Bridger said: “When you came in before and said you were arresting me on suspicion of murder... I was initially relieved because at that point I honestly thought you had found her.”

“You know where she is,” the officer said.

He replied: “I don’t know where she is.

“In my mind I’ve obviously put her somewhere and I can’t get that back.”

The trial was adjourned until 11am on Monday.

THE TRIAL SO FAR:

Jury shown accused’s car (17 May)

• Accused ‘had images of girl on laptop’ (16 May)

‘Blood was found’ on Bridger’s floor (13 May)

• Accused ‘seemed teary-eyed’ (10 May)