Wales

April Jones trial: Mark Bridger 'had images of her on laptop'

  • 15 May 2013
  • From the section Wales
April Jones
April Jones was playing close to her home in Machynlleth when she went missing

The man accused of killing April Jones in a sexually motivated attack had pictures of the five-year-old on his computer, a jury has been told.

Mark Bridger, 47, of Ceinws, Powys, also stored images of April's half-sisters and child murder victims, Mold Crown Court heard.

April disappeared while playing near her home in Machynlleth on 1 October 2012 and has never been found.

Mr Bridger denies abducting and murdering her.

The prosecution claims the defendant murdered April in a sexually motivated attack.

Mr Bridger told police during interviews he accidentally hit her with his vehicle, the jury has heard.

The defendant says he cannot remember what he did with her body because he was drunk and "panicked".

On Wednesday, Dyfed-Powys Police hi-tech crime manager Mervyn Ray told the court that the defendant looked at images of April's half-sisters and other local girls.

On 22 September last year, Mr Bridger viewed 22 images in a couple of minutes of one of April's half-sisters on Facebook, said Mr Ray.

Shortly afterwards, he viewed pictures of April and a half-sister, and also looked at other Facebook images of girls from the Machynlleth area.

Mr Ray told the jury how a folder had been set up on the computer containing pictures of April's half-sisters and included an image of April.

Artist's impression of Mark Bridger
The jury was told images of young girls had been found on Mr Bridger's computer

On 28 September - three days before April went missing - seven pictures of one of her half-sisters were viewed on Facebook as well as images of another local girl.

On the day April disappeared, the court was told Mr Bridger viewed 32 images of a local girl some of which were saved to a folder on his computer.

He also sent Facebook messages to women asking if they wanted to meet up with him.

Earlier, the public gallery was cleared as the jury was also told how Mr Bridger's computer contained images of naked young girls, pornographic cartoons and photographs of clothed girls including individuals he knew.

Mr Ray told the court that amongst the material found on his computer were photographs of real-life crime, including pictures of young murder victims such as Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman from Soham.

The jury heard how the images were divided into folders.

The folder containing images of cartoon sex included representations of "extremely young girls suffering sexual abuse", said Mr Ray.

The jury was shown other images including the victim of a speedboat accident in South Africa, a schoolgirl murdered in France in the 1990s and a murdered Turkish girl.

Mr Ray said internet searches for the type of material found had been made on the computer.

He said one of the internet searches, made on 8 June, was "naked 5-year-old girls" and another, on 4 July, was "10-year-old girl naked". Images were saved after the search, the jury was told.

There were 100 to 150 indecent pictures on Mr Bridger's laptop.

Of these, Mr Ray said 65 images met the "criminal standard", but many more were "borderline".

The jury also heard from computer forensics investigator, Adrian Wood, who said there "a lot more folders" which had been deleted from the computer.

He talked about two deleted folders which had contained "predominantly pictures" with about 220 images in each.

After lunch, the jury heard evidence from a forensics scientist who said it had not been possible to establish whether fibres found in Mr Bridger's vehicle had come from April's coat.

Nothing conclusive was found in "taping and sweepings" taken from outside the car either, she added.

Mark Bridger's home
The court heard there was evidence of a clean-up around Mr Bridger's fireplace

The forensics expert said the outer surface of April's coat was waterproof and would not shed fibres but the lining and fake fur of the hood could.

The court heard four purple polyester fibres had been found in the Land Rover which bore a "microscopic resemblance" to April's coat.

Crime scenes investigator Melanie Barlow, who examined Mr Bridger's home, said she recently reviewed pictures and noticed evidence of wiping down or a clean-up around the fireplace.

Looking at pictures of the wood burner in his living room, the witness said it appeared a cloth had been used to wipe down the front glass.

Referring to another picture, she said there was a "streak mark" along the front of the wood burner.

Under cross-examination, Ms Barlow admitted she had not made notes at the time prompting defence lawyer Brendan Kelly QC to claim it was more "guesswork" than scientific fact.

Later, the jury heard a written statement from Mr Bridger's landlord who said the cottage was in "perfect condition" - with carpets, floors and bathroom tiles cleaned - before he moved in on 25 August last year.

The jury has previously been told that April's blood was found in several locations around Mr Bridger's home.

As well as abduction and murder, he also denies intending to pervert the course of justice.

The trial was adjourned until Thursday.