The man accused of murdering schoolgirl April Jones “played a cruel game” as he tried to cover up the killing, a court heard today.
Mark Bridger, 47, has admitted to police that he probably killed April, but claims he cannot remember details because of a “combination of drink, adrenaline and raw panic”, the court was told.
The court heard that Bridger, who denies abduction and murder, had been “sexually motivated”. But he has claimed to detectives that he accidentally ran her over before placing her in his vehicle, the court heard.
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.
The prosecution alleges that April’s blood was found at Bridger’s home. So too were burnt skull fragments found in a fireplace that could belong to a human juvenile.
A boning knife was also discovered by police in searches following April’s disappearance.
The court was also told that Bridger had a stash of depraved pornography and that he had shown an interest in child abuse images, child murder and rape, including the Soham murders.
Opening the case for the prosecution today, Elwen Evans QC said Bridger was seen putting April in his Land Rover.
She 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. 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 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 sat staring ahead as he listened to the evidence at Mold Crown Court. He showed no emotion as the prosecution set out its case. Miss Evans told the jury: “The defendant 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.”
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 said: “April’s body is lost to us. We have had to look elsewhere for evidence of what this defendant did to her.”
Miss Evans said Bridger claimed 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.”
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.”
The case continues.