April Jones murder case: Suspect 'emotional wreck' at arrest

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Media captionMark Bridger told police on arrest that he knew 'what it's all about', a jury has heard

A man accused of murdering five-year-old April Jones told police on arrest that he knew "what it's all about", a jury has heard.

Mark Bridger was arrested at a roadside about 30 minutes after officers had searched his home in Ceinws, Powys.

The officer who arrested Mr Bridger told Mold Crown Court how the suspect had been "an emotional wreck".

Mr Bridger denies abducting and murdering April, who went missing near her Machynlleth home on 1 October 2012.

April, who had mild cerebral palsy, was playing on her bike with friends.

The court has been told by the prosecution that Mr Bridger murdered April and traces of her blood were found at his cottage.

The defendant told police during interviews he accidentally hit April with his vehicle and "panicked", the jury has heard.

He claims he cannot remember what he did with her body because he was drunk.

April has never been found.

On Friday, the jury heard from PC Phil Saunders who had been instructed to arrest Mr Bridger if he saw him.

The officer was driving towards Machynlleth when he saw a man fitting his description walking at the side of the A487 and stopped him. Mr Bridger confirmed his name and he was arrested on suspicion of abduction.

Upon arrest, Mr Bridger said: "I know what it's all about".

The officer asked him: "Where is she?" Mr Bridger replied: "It was an accident. I crushed her with the car. I don't know where she is."

Image caption Mark Bridger's home was hot and smelled of cleaning products, the jury was told

Mr Bridger was told he did not have to say anything on the way to the police station but he said he needed to talk, said the officer.

The defendant was tearful in court as the officer recalled the conversation in the car.

During the journey to Aberystwyth, the officer told how Mr Bridger said: "I have been looking for her all night and today on foot because my vehicle is in the garage. It is a left hand drive Land Rover Discovery.

"I didn't abduct her. I did my best to revive her. I panicked... I didn't even know until this morning who she was until I saw the television... I just wish I knew what I had done to her, where I put her. I want to say sorry to the family."

Mr Bridger said that he could not believe that he did not call an ambulance or police, said PC Saunders.

The police officer told how Mr Bridger had said: "There was no life in her, no response, no breath, no response in her eyes. She was just on the seat. I tried to revive her," he said.

He said he could not remember what he had done with her and said he had looked through all the rooms in the house, said PC Saunders.

'Very emotional'

"I would not have dumped her. She is a human being," Mr Bridger told the officer. "I would not have done that."

PC Saunders said that from the point of arrest Mr Bridger "became very emotional, crying", and throughout the journey he was "an emotional wreck".

Shortly afterwards, April's mother Coral Jones left the public gallery.

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Media captionPC Phil Saunders arrested Mark Bridger at about 15:30

Earlier on Friday Det Con Sarah Totterdale told the court how she was told to go to Mr Bridger's home at about 14:45 on 2 October to help arrest him and find April.

She had travelled in an unmarked vehicle with two other officers, arriving at 15:03. There were no vehicles at the property.

She had gone into the cottage and shouted "April, April" but there was no response.

The officer told how she went to the living room and immediately saw a log burner "glowing an orange colour". She said the heat was "noticeable" as soon as she went in.

Chemical smell

Her colleague told her to call for April because she might respond to a female voice.

She went upstairs into the main bedroom and began moving clothes to see if April was hiding.

She said there was a strong smell of washed clothes and washing powder downstairs. There was also a chemical smell in the air.

Describing the fire, she said: "It hadn't just been lit. This fire had obviously been burning for some time."

"It was uncomfortably hot because I was perspiring in the room and I only had a thin raincoat on," she added.

Image caption Mark Bridger took his Land Rover into Dyfi Autocraft in Machynlleth

Det Con Totterdale said despite a thorough search by officers, who looked in the attic and used a torch to search the chimney, there was no sign of April or Mr Bridger.

Cross-examined by Brendan Kelly QC, for the defence, she said the smell of cleaning products and detergent appeared strong in the living room and towards the bathroom.

Mr Kelly has suggested the wood burner at the property was also used to heat the water and central heating.

Written evidence from other officers also suggested the house was "uncomfortably warm" and there was a strong smell of cleaning products.

Earlier on Friday, the court heard Mr Bridger had taken his car to a garage on 2 October and the clerk noticed he looked upset.

The court heard written evidence on Friday from Sophy Zlavic, an office clerk at Dyfi Autocraft in Machynlleth, who told how Mr Bridger brought his Land Rover in at about 09:30 the morning after April went missing.

'Visibly upset'

She told how Mr Bridger had said: "I've just heard, I haven't got TV or radio up there". She believed he was talking about April.

Ms Zlavic said he "looked visibly upset and was teary-eyed when he said this but he didn't mention April by name".

She said everybody locally had been upset by April's disappearance but added "I found it odd that he was so upset by it all" and he looked "on the verge of crying as he spoke about it".

A mechanic said he kept asking how much his vehicle would cost to repair and when he could have it back. He appeared "nervous and edgy".

Garage owner, Robert Evans, said it was difficult to open certain doors in the vehicle which he added was a common problem with the Land Rover Discovery. He said a child would have had difficulty opening them.

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

The court was adjourned until Monday.