Missing April Jones: Mark Bridger murder trial adjourned
The trial of a man for the abduction and murder of missing five-year-old April Jones has been adjourned.
Mark Bridger, 47, also denies attempting to pervert the course of justice following her disappearance in Machynlleth, Powys, last year.
The judge at Mold Crown Court heard an application from his defence and the case is now expected to begin on 29 April.April has been missing since 1 October, and the search operation is continuing.
She had been playing on her bike outside her home on the Brynygog estate.The defendant is also from Machynlleth.
He also denies a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice. This refers to the unlawful disposal and concealment of a body.The disappearance of April Jones sparked one of the largest police searches in UK history.
Mark Bridger has been remanded in custody until the 11th January 2013. Charged with the Murder of April Jones, Bridger also faces charges of unlawfully disposing of and concealing her body with intent to pervert the course of justice. Bearded and wearing thin-rimmed glasses and a black jumper, he sat in front of a grey curtain in the Manchester prison where he is being detained. The court heard that some of the witnesses in the case are as young as seven. Elwen Evans QC, prosecuting, said forensic and other “extensive investigations” were continuing “apace” and the judge agreed that “matters may develop”. But Mr Justice Griffith-Williams said it was his intention to try the case “at the earliest possible date”.
The court heard that the prosecution had been given notice of Bridger’s “likely defence” which had been taken in interviews.
It will be overseen by Mr Justice Griffith Williams, a High Court judge who has previously presided over high profile cases such as that of Barry George, who was acquitted of the murder of presenter Jill Dando.
He cried in court. He didn’t explain his tears. He didn’t say, for example, whether he was crying because he’d done a terrible thing, or whether he was crying because he was innocent. Or whether he was crying because a five-year-old girl, who loved her guinea pig, and her friends, and her family, and her life, was dead.
Mark Bridger is the only person who knows whether or not he took little April’s life away. He may, or may not, know exactly what happened to her, and if she’s alive or dead. He may, or may not, know where she, or her body is. If he does, then April’s parents, who are stuck in a hell where fear and grief and hope are all mixed up, can only pray that he’ll tell.
Maybe he will. Maybe he won’t. But one thing is clear. If Mark Bridger did ask April Jones to climb into his van, and if he did take her somewhere, and if he did do something terrible to her, something that meant she lost her life, he can’t think, and could never have thought, that nobody would care. He can’t think, and could never have thought, that a place where hundreds of people go out to search, in the cold, and the rain, and the dark, and where hundreds of people wear pink ribbons, because a mother asks them to, and where hundreds of people light candles, and some send lanterns floating into the sky, would be a place where a little girl could disappear and nobody could care.
The complex private life of Mark Bridger – “Bit of a ladies man”
Unemployed Mark Bridger has a colourful love life and long line of failed careers.
Born in Sutton, Surrey, the 46-year-old was known to April’s parents Coral, 40, and Paul, 43, after his move to Wales in the 1980s.
Mark Bridger, 46, is the uncle of April jones two half sisters.
Detectives looking at the complex relationships of Mr Bridger’s past, discovered that he had fathered two children with a woman called Elaine Griffiths. Mr Bridger and Elaine had Connor and Sophie in the 1990s.
Around the same time, Elaine’s sister Karen had two daughters – Hazel and Abby – with April’s father Paul Jones. He subsequently married April’s mother, Coral.
The connection means that Mr Bridger’s children are cousins to April’s half sisters.
The divorcee has had a string of relationships in the town of Machynlleth, and he has fathered at least three children (up to 6 in some reports) with at least two women on the Bryn-y-Gog estate where April lives, and possibly more in London
A long line of jobs – Abattoir worker, Welder, Mechanic, Lifeguard, Hotel porter
Friends described the former abattoir worker as being a regular visitor on the estate.
It has been previously suggested that he is a former soldier but there is no record of him ever having been employed by the Ministry of Defence.
Bridger is still on good terms with Elaine, the mother to two of his children aged 9, and 13. Elaine is now married to a new partner and has a four-year-old girl
Since moving to Wales, Bridger has struggled to hold down a steady job and has been unemployed for long periods of time.
At other times, he has worked as a welder and as a lifeguard at the same leisure centre now being used to co-ordinate the search for April.
He is the middle child of Pamela and Graham Bridger, who now live on the Sussex coast, he has an older sister and younger brother who still live in Surrey.
One resident of the estate said that he was recently evicted from his rented accommodation after his landlady discovered that he had been keeping chickens inside the property.
He is thought to have been a keen camper and recently posted a recommendation on a camping forum for a site at which he and his girlfriend had stayed in France.
One local, Glen, said Mr Bridger had also harvested trees on forestry land close to Machynlleth
After moving to Powys, he met local woman Julie, who he married in June 1990 in Machynlleth, but the couple have not spoken for years. Their son Scott, 19, revealed the relationship between his parents was so strained that he had only recently met his father.
He said: “He’s never really been in my life. I only met him really properly a couple of months ago. “I have only met him on a couple of occasions like down the local pub – he’s been there a couple of times that I’ve been there.”
Scott said he had been out helping with the search. He said he was “shocked” to learn that his father had been arrested, adding: “I only heard about it when they announced it on the news. It was a shock when his name was announced on the telly.”
Up until two years ago, Bridger was living with a local woman named Corinna, but they have since split up.
Neighbours said he had been living with another woman on the estate, Vicky, but she ended the relationship last month.
One former neighbour said: “He has had a lot of women and goes from one to another.
“Looking back now, it seems like a lot of relationships but these things can happen in life. He’s never been single for long and has always got on with people even though this a very small community – everyone knows everyone else’s business here.”
Locals described Bridger as quiet but friendly, and revealed that he was a member of the local pub darts and cricket teams.
One said: “Mark had always been very friendly and trying to fit in since he moved here 20-odd years ago.
“April and Mark’s kids were all friends in one big group, so April would have known who Mark was.”
Bridger had been staying in a small whitewashed farmhouse in Ceinws, five miles north of Machynlleth.
Murder suspect Mark Bridger attended the same school parents’ evening as April Jones‘s mother and father just hours before the five-year-old disappeared.
The 46-year-old was seen at Ysgol Gynradd Machynlleth, where two of his children are pupils.Witnesses saw the former leisure centre worker drive to the parents’ evening, which started at 5pm, in his blue Land Rover Discovery
It emerged he had a handful of reasons to visit the Bryn-y-Gog estate, in his left-hand drive 4×4, on a regular basis.
Among them are two daughters who live less than 200 yards from April’s home, and two former partners who both live on the estate. April is known to have played out on her bicycle with the two girls who are believed to be aged seven and 10.
Both girls have a step-sister who is the same age as April who also regularly played with her.
April has mild cerebral palsy. The brain condition can hinder development and affect posture, balance and movement, but other than experiencing slight problems with her hands, April tries to live a normal life, but requires medication.
10/10/2012 – Police search teams cordon off caravan in Ceinws
Police investigating the disappearance of April Jones have cordoned off a caravan close to suspect Mark Bridger’s house.Tape surrounded a small clearing in a wooded area just a few hundred metres from the village of Ceinws.Inside, a small aged caravan was being searched by officers looking for signs of the missing five-year-old.
The site is just a short distance from the field that more than dozen officers from Dyfed Powys Police and British Transport Police were meticulosly searching yesterday.
On 8/10/2012 a disused quarry half a mile from Mr Bridger’s house had been sealed off and was described by a police source as a “crime scene”. The quarry, in Ceinws, is near to the farm house where Mr Bridger lived for the two weeks before his arrest and is around five miles from Machynlleth. Locals said it was “dangerous” and had three mine shafts and several ventilation shafts.
The missing girl April Jones went on a summer fishing trip with Mark Bridger – the man suspected of murdering her
April was taken crabbing with Mr Bridger’s two children in his blue Land Rover which police believe was used to abduct the five-year-old, her family has revealed.
The crabbing trip in August means April had been in Mr Bridger’s vehicle at least twice before she was abducted while playing outside her home.
Bridger was a frequent visitor to the Brynygog Estate in Machynlleth where April’s family live close to his ex-girlfriend.
Two of his own children live in the street and their stepsister was one of April’s best friends.
Relatives confirmed former lifeguard Bridger, 46, took his chidren crabbing – and asked April to join them.
Her parents Coral and Paul allowed April to join her friends on the happy day-trip.
The family member said: “This summer Mark took his kids on a crabbing trip to the coast north of Machynlleth and April went with them in the Land Rover.
“Nobody in the family thought anything of it at the time – the kids love going crabbing in the summer.
“But it means the police will definitely find forensic evidence of April in his Land Rover.”
The trip would have been a treat for April and her friends who loved to go crabbing, dropping a baited line off a harbour wall to catch small crabs.
April’s playmates have told police they climbed into Bridger’s Land Rover when he was parked up on the estate two night’s before the abduction.
Forensic experts are continuing to examine Bridger’s Spanish registered left-hand drive light blue Land Rover Discovery – which matches the vehicle April was driven away in.
There are now 135 police officers along with an RAF helicopter and a team of HM Coastguard searchers working on the case.
POLICE hunting for little April Jones fear she may NEVER be found because her body has been washed out to sea.
Detectives believe April, five, may have floated 20 miles to the Irish Sea from the River Dyfi.
In the 48 hours after she disappeared on October 1 from Machynlleth, the Mid-Wales town was drenched by heavy rain. The river flooded, cutting the chances of a body snagging on banks or trees — meaning April could have been swept all the way to the sea.
A police source admitted: “The currents could have taken her miles out and it may prove impossible to find her.”Divers and other experts have scoured the river and 18 police teams continued to do so