Wales

April Jones trial: Mark Bridger 'did not think to ring 999'

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Media captionMark Bridger denies abducting and murdering the five-year-old in Machynlleth but says he knocked her down with his car and panicked

A man accused of abducting and murdering five-year-old April Jones said it never occurred to him to ring 999 for help.

Mold Crown Court has heard that Mark Bridger told officers he accidentally knocked her over and could not remember what he had done with her body.

The defendant, 47, of Ceinws, Powys, denies abducting and murdering April, who went missing near her Machynlleth home on 1 October 2012.

She has never been found.

The prosecution claims the defendant murdered April, who suffered from mild cerebral palsy, in a sexually motivated attack.

But Mr Bridger told police during interviews he accidentally hit her with his Land Rover Discovery and does not know how he disposed of her body because he was suffering memory loss caused by alcohol and panic.

Earlier this week, the jury was told by a forensics scientist who examined the vehicle that there was no evidence of any type of collision with April.

On Friday morning, the court heard more of the police interviews conducted on 3 October, two days after April disappeared.

At one point in court the defendant was in tears as he heard himself telling police: "I would like to say to Paul and Coral [April's parents] I never meant this to happen... I never meant to put them through this."

In the interviews, Mr Bridger said he did not know why he had not called the emergency services after he claimed his car hit her.

"My intention was to get her to the hospital... what hospital do I take her to?... What do I do?... For some reason I never thought of dialling 999... I just didn't think..."

'Happy times'

Later, the court heard that Mr Bridger was told during one police interview that a witness saw April approaching a dark-haired man.

"That's totally untrue," he replied.

After hearing further claims by the witness, he said in the interview that it was "complete fabrication and lies".

He insisted on knowing who the witness was but the officer refused to tell him.

Mr Bridger said he would not answer any further questions and added it was obvious the witness was not there or had been "influenced" to say something.

He went on to say there was no way April could have got into his car and dismissed evidence as "total lies".

Later, he said: "I did not abduct April."

Image caption The prosecution claims April Jones suffered a sexually motivated attack

The court also heard about the moment Mr Bridger was further arrested for April's murder after previously being arrested for abduction.

He replied: "I didn't murder the little girl... it was an accident."

Earlier on Friday, the court heard that Mr Bridger told police he had left a parents' evening for his daughter and had hoped to see his ex-partner. He told how he was drinking alcohol to "calm my nerves".

"I got to the point where I'd had too much to drink... I'd run out," he added. He said he thought he was over the driving limit.

Mr Bridger described how he prepared to drive off and saw one girl, then another youngster had "come in front of the car".

He continued: "I could see the pushbike... there was no thud, there was no knock and the vehicle then rose up."

He said he looked down "and there's a small bike but no girl..."

"I have seen my vehicle pushed up against the body of a young child," he said.

He said he saw "a body, a little person's body".

"She was so small," he said adding that her arms and legs were limp but "her eyes were open". He said "pure panic" set in.

One of his first reactions, he said, was that he had "killed her".

He said he looked for the other girl and had intended to call to her for help but she was not there.

Mr Bridger said he tried to resuscitate April.

Asked in the interview what he remembered about April's clothes, he said: "The one thing I noticed, or I haven't seen... was any blood..."

He said "my intention was to get her to hospital". On reaching the Monument landmark near Machynlleth he said he checked her again.

He said he then realised Machynlleth hospital had no accident and emergency.

"All I wanted was to get this little girl help," he said.

Struggled to remember

Image caption The jury viewed Mark Bridger's Land Rover on Thursday

Then he described how he was possibly crying at this point, thinking "I have now killed a little girl".

Later in the interview, Mr Bridger, who said he was on anti-depressant medication, was asked to try and remember the last time he saw April but said he had trouble with his short term memory.

He told police he did not mean to put April's parents through this. The interviewing officer, Det Con Louise Thomas, replied: "Maybe you can help them by trying to remember."

The jury also heard details of another police interview held on the same day.

He said the shock he felt at having "killed a young person" had taken over "all the proper thoughts".

Asked what he had done with April he replied he had drunk a "serious amount of alcohol" adding: "Do you really think I would be sat here if I really knew where she was?"

At one point in the interview, the officer said there were inconsistencies in Mr Bridger's account and told him: "The way you're telling us didn't quite happen".

Mr Bridger said it happened "exactly the way" he had claimed.

Later, Det Con Thomas told him: "Mark, we don't want her to suffer anymore." He replied: "She can't."

Armed forces

He was asked to "think about April's mum and dad" and put himself in their shoes. He said: "I have."

He also said in the interview he was 95% impotent and it was one of the reasons he had split up with his girlfriend.

The court also heard him talk about being employed by the armed forces. The jury has previously heard that the Royal Military Police had no record of him ever serving.

He said he had been trained in bomb disposal, close combat and had been given weapons and firearms training.

He said he had been to Belize, Afghanistan, Mozambique and Cuba, among other places.

Asked about injuries, he said he had been "blown up", shot in the back and had broken most of the bones in one side of his body.

He also talked about pornographic images found on his computer saying he had been trying to understand the physical changes his daughter was going through.

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

The case is due to continue on Monday.