April Jones: Mark Bridger Jailed For Entire Life

April Jones: Mark Bridger Jailed For Entire Life

Former slaughterhouse worker Mark Bridger will spend the rest of his life in prison for the abduction and murder of schoolgirl April Jones.

The five-year-old vanished while playing on her bike near her home on the Bryn y Gog estate in Machynlleth, mid-Wales, on October 1 last year.

Her body has never been found despite the biggest search in British policing history.

Bridger was given a whole life sentence by trial judge Mr Justice Griffith Williams after he was convicted by a jury at Mold Crown Court of April's abduction and murder, and of perverting the course of justice by unlawfully disposing, destroying or concealing her body.

The 47-year-old stood impassively as the sentence was handed down, but shook his head when the judge addressed his perverted interest in violent child abuse.

Calling him a "pathological and glib liar", the judge said: "There is no doubt in my mind that you are a paedophile, who has for some time harboured sexual and morbid fantasies about young girls."

The judge added that Bridger had stored on his laptop "not only images of pre-pubescent and pubescent girls, but foul pornography of the gross sexual abuse of young children".

Bridger had denied the allegations and claimed he killed the youngster when he accidentally ran over her, but could not remember what he did with April's body because he was drunk and panicking.

In his sentencing remarks, the judge said Bridger had abducted April "for a sexual purpose and then murdered her and disposed of her body to hide the evidence of your sexual abuse of her".

He said it could not be inferred from the evidence where he murdered the schoolgirl, "but if she was alive when you took her to the house, she died there".

"How you disposed of her body must remain a mystery. It will serve no purpose for me to speculate as to what happened, but all the indications are that you burnt at least a part of her in the wood burner," he added.

The judge also said the "grief of April's parents cannot be over-stated" and without the knowledge of what happened to their daughter "her parents will probably never come to terms with their grievous loss".

Speaking outside court after the sentencing, April's mother Coral said the family were relieved by the verdict, adding: "April will be forever in our hearts and we are so moved by the overwhelming support we have had from so many people all over the world."

Mrs Jones, 43, who was with her husband Paul, 41, was wearing a pink ribbon which has come to symbolise the search for April.

She fought back tears as she thanked their friends and family, and particularly the community of Machynlleth, for all their support.

In a statement read out in court, Mrs Jones said: "I will never forget that night that April never came home.

"As April's mother, I will live with guilt of letting her go out to play that night for the rest of my life.

"Words alone cannot describe how we are feeling or how we manage to function on a daily basis. I would never, ever want any other family to go through what we are and will go through for the rest of our lives."

The senior investigating officer, Detective Superintendent Andy John, paid tribute to the "strength, courage and dignity" of April's family when he made his statement outside court.

"Justice has been done and Mark Bridger, an evil and manipulative individual, will have his liberty taken from him," he said.

The jury at Mold Crown Court returned the unanimous verdicts following four hours and six minutes of deliberations.

In the dock, Bridger, wearing a blue shirt and spotted tie, appeared to hold back tears as the guilty verdicts were read out.

April's grieving parents, who attended every day of the month-long trial, looked on from the public gallery.

Mrs Jones wiped tears away from her face as she heard the verdicts, which were met in complete silence.

It has been claimed that Bridger confessed that he may have disposed of April's body to a Catholic priest while on remand in Strangeways prison in Manchester.

Details of his cell-room conversation emerged during legal argument in the trial - but were never heard by the jury.

Bridger was described as a "cold-hearted murderer" who "spun a web of lies and half-truths" to try to get away with his "truly horrific" crime, by prosecutors after the verdicts.

Drops of April's blood and fragments of bone, thought to have come from an adolescent human, were found by forensics officers at Bridger's rented cottage, Mount Pleasant, in Ceinws, Powys. It was visited by the jury in the first week of the trial.

Bridger had been watching a brutal rape scene from the 2009 re-make of the slasher film The Last House On The Left "not long before" April was murdered, it can be reported for the first time.

The jury was shown indecent images stored on a computer taken from the killer's home.

They included many extreme pictures of naked underage girls being sexually abused, as well as cartoon images featuring "monster sex" with "humanoids" abusing girls.

Bridger was also found to have images of April, her half-sisters, aged 13 and 16, and of the victims of "real life" crimes including Soham victims Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in a folder labelled "Clothes".

On the day April was abducted, Bridger's girlfriend had ended their relationship and he had tried to ask out three different women on Facebook.

The youngster was playing near her home on the day she disappeared with a seven-year-old friend, who told the court she had seen April get into Bridger's Land Rover.

It is believed Bridger, who fathered six children with four different women, lured the schoolgirl into the vehicle with the false offer of a sleepover with his daughter.

"He isn't somebody that had been on our radar," Detective Superintendent John said.

The next morning, unbeknown to him, Bridger was placed under police surveillance.

He was spotted close to the River Dyfi, which runs through Machynlleth, carrying a plastic bag.

Police arrested him the same day close to the river, while he claimed to have been helping in the search of the missing schoolgirl.

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