April Jones murder: Accused ‘had child porn’

April Jones vanished in October last year. Mark Bridger, a former lifeguard, is accused of her murder. Picture: PA

April Jones vanished in October last year. Mark Bridger, a former lifeguard, is accused of her murder. Picture: PA

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The former abattoir worker accused of abducting and murdering schoolgirl April Jones had “a clear interest in child pornography and in child murder cases”, a court heard today.

Mark Bridger, 47, is on trial at Mold Crown Court accused of murdering the five-year-old and then playing a “cruel game” in an attempt to cover his tracks.

The court heard that there was a “sexual motive” to the murder and that investigators found numerous indecent images on the defendant’s laptop, as well as pictures of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman from the Soham murder case.

Opening the case for the prosecution today, Elwen Evans QC, told the jury: “In addition to child pornography and photos of young girls, the defendant also had an interest in child murder and rape cases; for example, images of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman from the Soham case.

“Why will you need to consider this sort of material?

“You will have to decide whether pretty five-year-old April was abducted and murdered or run over by accident and killed, as the defendant says.

“We say his interest in pornography, young girls, rape and murder cases is all too relevant and you may see it as the key to understanding what he did and why he did what he did.”

Search

The court was told that Bridger was seen putting April in his Land Rover.

Miss Evans said that on the day she was abducted April was “happy and smiling” when she was seen getting into Bridger’s car by her friend who also saw Bridger speaking to the child, the court heard.

She said: “He drove her away and that was the last that anyone, apart from the defendant, saw of April.”

The court heard her disappearance sparked “the largest search in British history”.

April vanished while playing on her bike near her home in Machynlleth, Mid Wales, on October 1 last year and her body has never been found.

Miss Evans said: “It’s the defendant’s case that he admits that he drove her away. He admits that April is dead. He accepts that he killed her or probably killed her.

“He accepts that he must have got rid of her body.”

But Miss Evans said Bridger has not told police where the body is.

She said: “He says to us that he does not know, that he cannot remember.

‘Manipulation’

“The prosecution case is this: that Mark Bridger abducted April. That he murdered her and that he went to enormous lengths to try to cover up what he had done.

“It’s our case that the defendant’s actions - abduction, murder, covering up what he has done - that his actions were sexually motivated.”

Miss Evans added: “He has played, we say, a cruel game in pretending not to know what he has done to her.

“It’s a game to try and save himself and try to manipulate his way out of his full responsibility in what he has done.”

Bridger, wearing a light blue short-sleeved shirt and striped tie, sat staring ahead as he listened to the evidence.

A large snake tattoo could be seen on his left forearm and he wore headphones to help him hear the proceedings.

The disappearance of April, who had cerebral palsy, sparked a massive outpouring of support for her family, with hundreds of people joining the search.

Panic

Bridger, of Ceinws, denies abducting and murdering April, and unlawfully disposing of and concealing her body with intent to pervert the course of justice.

Miss Evans, continuing her opening speech to the jury, said: “April’s body is lost to us. We have had to look elsewhere for evidence of what this defendant did to her.”

The jury was told it will hear eyewitness accounts and be told of phone, CCTV and DNA evidence from his house.

It would also hear about some of the defendant’s “interests”, based on analysis of his computer use, including child pornography, rape and murder.

Miss Evans said Bridger claims to police that he ran over April in his Land Rover, put her in his car and drove her around the village with her “dead or dying” in his car.

She went on: “Thereafter he doesn’t know, he can’t remember what he did to April.

“He can’t remember because of a combination of drink, adrenaline and raw panic.”

Motive

Miss Evans said analysis of Bridger’s computer use showed “context and motive” for his behaviour towards April.

She said: “His computer, it shows this is a man who has a clear interest in child pornography and in child murder cases.

“I’m afraid we will have to view examples together, to give you a picture of what was on that computer.

“The images depict adults having sex with girls, some consensual, some non-consensual.”

The jury heard some of the search terms found on Bridger’s laptop included “Naked young five-year-old girls” and “nudism five-year-old” and “France: British schoolgirl raped and murdered”.

Miss Evans said bone fragments consistent with being from a juvenile skull were found around the hearth at Bridger’s home.

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