Wales

April Jones case: Mark Bridger's 'complex web of lies'

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Media captionMark Bridger denies abducting and murdering April

A man accused of murdering five-year-old April Jones told a "complex web of lies" about her death, the prosecution has said in its cross-examination.

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

Earlier, he told Mold Crown Court he accidentally knocked her over in his Land Rover but did not remember what he had done with her.

Her body has never been found.

Giving evidence in his defence on Wednesday, he told the court he was drunk and panicked after hitting her.

The prosecution claims he murdered April in a sexually motivated attack after abducting her as she played near her home on the Bryn-Y-Gog estate.

Under cross-examination by Elwen Evans QC for the prosecution, he was asked: "Where is April?

He responded: "I don't know."

Prosecution: "What did you, Mr Bridger, do with April's body?"

Mr Bridger: "I don't know."

Prosecution: "You have absolutely no idea?"

Image caption April had been playing with a friend when she disappeared from the Bryn-Y-Gog estate

Mr Bridger: "No".

Prosecution: "Is that what you're telling the jury?"

Mr Bridger: "Yes".

Prosecution: "Can you just consider the scale and the scope of the police search... can we agree that whatever you did with April's body you got rid of her so thoroughly that no part of her apart from possibly the blood and bone (remained)... do you agree?"

Mr Bridger went on to say: "I'm not proud of that."

Ms Evans: "You did it and you must have got rid of her that thoroughly?"

Mr Bridger: "I don't know what happened."

He was questioned about his memory of lying April down on the carpet in front of the fire in his home.

Mr Bridger replied: "It is a recollection I have."

Ms Evans then asked Mr Bridger about his reasons for washing a top he had been wearing on the night April went missing.

"I believe there was blood on it. It would have come from April or myself," he said.

Ms Evans: "You rinsed it first in the bath presumably to get rid of the blood?"

Mr Bridger: "I believed there could be blood on it, it could have been dirty or mud on it."

The following morning, Mr Bridger said he remembered putting his clothes back on.

"I wore two pairs of trousers, t shirt, jumper and possibly another one, I never slept in the nude. I was never naked," he said.

Asked where April was by then he replied: "I have no idea, this was six hours or eight hours after the incident."

Ms Evans said she wanted to talk about an image on the day "April was abducted by you".

Mr Bridger responded: "I didn't abduct April."

Ms Evans: "Shall we use a more neutral expression... the day she left Bryn-Y-Gog in your car?"

Mr Bridger: "Yes."

She went on to discuss an indecent cartoon image viewed at 12:11 on 1 Oct which involved "duct taping". He said he had not noticed the duct taping.

He had previously been asked why he had silver duct taping on his car's dashboard and said it was used in work.

Asked why he was viewing the image, he said he had "no idea" and it may have been in the wrong file.

He was also asked about the 14-year-old girl who he suspected might be his daughter and why the girl's mother had made a police statement saying she had never had any romantic involvement with him.

Army career

He said the mother had been referring to an earlier time when she was 15 but the sexual relationship had taken place years after.

Ms Evans asked: "How easy do you find it to lie through your teeth?"

Mr Bridger: "I don't find it easy, no."

Image caption The court has previously heard April Jones's blood was found in several locations around Mr Bridger's home

Asked about his fabricated army career, he accepted it was a "fantasy".

Pressed further on why he continued the lie for many years, he asked what was he supposed to do, "change my mind halfway through".

Ms Evans looked at the jury and repeated: "What are you supposed to do, change your mind halfway through."

He was also asked about a police interview on 4 October after he had been arrested on suspicion of abduction and murder.

The jury heard he was still lying about his military career in the interview, claiming he had been accepted into the Royal Navy.

He was asked in court several times whether that was true but said he did not know.

Asked why he was lying about that and other military claims, he said it was "to impress... my family, my children".

Ms Evans said: "These were police officers interviewing you about the murder and abduction of April Jones. Who were you trying to impress?"

The jury was told he made further claims in the interview about bomb disposal, close combat training, mercenary work and other military experiences "because I wanted the thrill, I wanted the buzz".

He accepted he had lied.

Ms Evans said: "It goes further than that Mr Bridger, it's not just that you lie about it, you weave a complex web of lies about it don't you?"

Mr Bridger: "No."

She also asked whether there was "some way that someone following one of your stories would know whether it was fantasy or not? Is there some clue in the way you tell your lies?"

Mr Bridger said: "There was plenty of people that didn't believe me yes... so they weren't good lies were they?"

Ms Evans said they were lies that he was happy to repeat while being questioned on suspicion of murder.

Earlier the court had heard Mr Bridger's account of how he says he accidentally ran April over as she played near her home.

He said he saw a girl in front of him but as he went to pull away "the car rose up".

He realised what had happened then tried to revive her but "there was no reaction".

He said he had been drinking and panicked so could not remember how he disposed of her body.

The court has previously heard April's blood was found in several locations around Mr Bridger's home.

He also denies intending to pervert the course of justice.

The case is due to continue on Thursday.