April Jones: Parents tell of horror after girl missing

April Jones. Picture: PA
April Jones. Picture: PA
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A JURY has heard of the frantic moments when the parents of April Jones learned their five-year-old daughter was missing.

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The police statements of Coral and Paul Jones were read to the trial of Mark Bridger, who is accused of abducting and murdering the schoolgirl.

The statements, read at Mold Crown Court by Elwen Evans QC, prosecuting, began by outlining the family’s day on 1 October.

After April was collected from school, she was taken by her mother for a swimming lesson before they returned home.

After she had watched her favourite Disney film, April asked to go out and play on her bike with a friend, her mother said.

Mrs Jones, 43, said: “Paul and I said no – she wanted to take her bike to her friend’s next door.

“She kept on and on and had a little tantrum and I eventually gave in so she went next door to play. I told her I didn’t want her out for long. I think it was about 7pm and that was the last time I saw her.”

Twenty minutes later, Mrs Jones sent April’s older brother out to collect his sister as “it was getting dark and a little colder”.

“Within a very short time he came running home and he was in a hysterical state,” Mrs Jones continued. “When I calmed him down, he said that April’s friend had seen her getting into a car with a man and that she had gone. I immediately went over and asked April’s friend what she had seen. I was told that April had got into a car with a man and he had driven off.”

Mrs Jones called the police straightaway.

Bridger, of Ceinws, mid-Wales, denies abduction, murder and intending to pervert the course of justice by disposing of, concealing or destroying April’s body.

The prosecution say he snatched and murdered April near her home in Machynlleth, in a “sexually motivated” attack.

Bridger, who wiped tears from his eyes throughout the reading of the statements yesterday, says he accidentally killed April when he ran her over and does not remember what he did with her body.

Mrs Jones, who made her statement on 8 October, said April was “aware of strangers” and knew not to go off with anybody she did not know.

“I can’t understand why she would go into someone’s car that she doesn’t know,” she added.

Mrs Jones said Bridger had made contact with her elder daughter, then aged around 14, on Facebook about two years ago.

In her statement to police, April’s sister recounted the Facebook messages from Bridger.

She said they took place in June 2011 and she responded to the friend request with a message saying: “Hello, who are you? I don’t know you.”

The jury heard Bridger responded: “I played darts with your mum many years ago.”

He added that he had known Mr Jones for “many years”.

The teenager replied: “Yeah, I am her daughter and yeah, he is 
my dad, but I’m still not too sure who you are and why you are adding me.”

The jury was also shown a series of CCTV clips tracking Bridger’s movements in his Land Rover the day April went missing and the following morning.

The first time Bridger was seen on CCTV was at 10:59am at the council offices wearing combat trousers and a T-shirt.

Bridger was seen heading back into town at 1:17pm on cameras at Tuffins Garage on the edge of town. He was later filmed going into the Penny Pinchers shop in the town centre before being tracked going back home at 1:29pm.

The next time Bridger was spotted was at 4:48pm when his car was seen driving across the bridge from his home towards Machynlleth. The prosecution has previously said he went to a parents’ evening at the local primary school.

The court has heard that April went missing some time after 7pm. Miss Evans showed the jury CCTV image of Bridger’s Land Rover driving past Tuffins Garage at 7:20pm.

The next day a helicopter looking for the missing girl zoomed in on Bridger who was seen walking his dog outside his cottage. The jury was asked to note that there was smoke coming from the chimney of his house.

Earlier the court heard how bone fragments, thought to be from a “juvenile skull”, were found in his woodburner.

The trial was adjourned until Tuesday.