Wales

April Jones case: Jury visits Mark Bridger's home

  • 2 May 2013
  • From the section Wales

The jury in the trial of the man accused of murdering five-year-old April Jones in a sexually motivated attack has visited his home.

Mark Bridger, 47, from Ceinws, Powys, denies abducting and murdering April, who disappeared near her home in Machynlleth on 1 October 2012.

Jurors arrived to see key locations in connection with the case before heading to the defendant's home nearby.

Prosecutors have told Mold Crown Court that blood found there was April's.

The jury spent two-and-a half hours in the Machynlleth area until about 14:00 BST and proceedings ended for the day. The trial will continue on Friday.

At lunchtime on Thursday, the jury was taken to the defendant's cottage by coach and entered four at a time.

The first of the jury members later emerged from the house with two police officers standing nearby, preventing anyone approaching. Other jury members stood in the front garden awaiting their turn.

They spent up to 10 minutes inside the cottage, which stands at the top of the village, up a slight hill and near the river Dulas.

Image caption The jury visited Mark Bridger's cottage on Thursday. The police released these photos taken inside the house afterwards
Image caption The jury was taken to Mr Bridger's house and was shown pictures taken inside after his arrest. The prosecution told Mold Crown Court on Wednesday that blood found around his home matched April Jones's DNA. It claimed bone fragments found in fire ashes were consistent with bone fragments from a juvenile human skull.
Image caption Mr Bridger denies murdering and abducting April Jones. The prosecution claims April's blood was found in Mr Bridger's living room and blood stains on his carpet also matched April's DNA.
Image caption Mark Bridger's lounge. The prosecution alleged the defendant undertook an 'extensive clean-up operation at home'. However, the prosecution claims, some evidence remained.
Image caption The pictures included Mr Bridger's bathroom, where the prosecution alleged April's DNA was found.
Image caption The prosecution said April's blood was found on the inside of the glass of the washing machine door in Mr Bridger's bathroom.
Image caption The door to Mr Bridger's bathroom, where the prosecution alleged April's DNA was found. They told jurors when they referred to one-in-a-billion, 'that is, in fact, April's blood'.
Image caption Jurors were also shown what the prosecution have called key locations around Mr Bridger's home, including another washing machine and tumble dryer
Image caption The stairs in Mr Bridger's home. The prosecution alleged tests revealed blood in tile grouting in the hallway. Experts, the prosecution said, claimed that was indicative of a clean-up.

Afterwards, photographs of inside Mr Bridger's home were released by Dyfed-Powys Police.

There was no other noticeable activity in the village and no traffic was allowed through during the jury visit.

Earlier on Thursday, jurors arrived in a town bathed in sunshine, with pink ribbons put up to mark April's disappearance still visible.

The jury's first visit was to April's school, Machynlleth Junior School, on the edge of Bryn-Y-Gog estate where April lived and disappeared from while playing with friends.

Jurors were accompanied by several police motorcycle outriders and a police car, and officers stopped traffic going to the area of the estate where they were.

The court had heard on Wednesday that April's parents Coral and Paul as well as the defendant had attended parents' evenings at the school on the evening April disappeared.

The jury then walked from the school to the estate itself. The next port of call was the war memorial in Machynlleth via the back road from Bryn-y-Gog before jurors were taken to Machynlleth Leisure Centre, where the last known CCTV images of April were recorded.

Image caption April Jones disappeared while playing close to her home on the Bryn-Y-Gog estate in Machynlleth on 1 October

The court on Wednesday was shown footage of April arriving at the leisure centre with a friend shortly after 16:30.

While she was at the leisure centre her mother and father went to her school for the parents' evening.

The jurors were also taken to the clock tower in the centre of Machynlleth - close to where Mr Bridger was seen on CCTV on the day April went missing - and Tuffins garage, which the court has heard he was seen driving past.

They also saw the spot on the A487 where the defendant was arrested and were taken to a lay-by which the prosecution has said was where a witness saw him carrying a black bin liner.

The lay-by, close to the river Dulas, is less than half a mile from Mr Bridger's home.

The defendant's home played a key role in evidence presented by prosecuting counsel Elwen Evans QC on Wednesday.

Ms Evans told the court the defendant burned evidence in his fire and used detergent as part of an "extensive clean-up".

But blood stains at various locations around the cottage matched April's DNA, she said.

Ms Evans said that when the prosecution referred to a one-in-a-billion match "that is, in fact, April's blood".

Tests on bone fragments at Mr Bridger's house "strongly support" the fact they came from a human skull, she said.

The prosecution had outlined Mr Bridger's movements on the day of April's disappearance.

'No strings attached'

He had approached two young girls - aged eight and 10 - who were playing on bicycles, the court was told.

One was friendly with his daughter and he invited her for a sleepover but she declined and he drove away.

Earlier in the day he had propositioned three women via Facebook asking two of them to meet up "with no strings attached".

He had also exchanged texts with a former girlfriend about their break-up.

Mr Bridger had told police during interviews he had accidentally hit April with his car and "panicked", the jury was told.

"I didn't abduct her. I did my best to revive her," he said.

The defendant also denies intending to pervert the course of justice.

The trial continues.