Wales

April Jones had 'happy face' as 'she got into vehicle'

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Media captionThe jury at the Mold Crown Court has been played a police interview with April's friend

A friend of April Jones who was playing with the five-year-old before she went missing told police she had a "happy face" as she got into a vehicle.

April disappeared near her home in Machynlleth, Powys, on 1 October, 2012. She has never been found.

The jury at the Mold Crown Court trial of Mark Bridger, 47, who denies her abduction and murder, has watched a police interview with April's friend.

The seven-year-old girl said a man got out of a Land Rover then April got in.

The court has also heard about the moment April's mother Coral Jones was told that her daughter had disappeared.

Mrs Jones had called at the home of April's friend looking for her daughter.

But the girl and April's brother came running back saying: "April's got into someone's van, April's been taken."

The girl's mother told the court: "She [Mrs Jones] just dropped to her knees. She was in a complete state of panic. She was just running back and forth. She didn't know what to do with herself."

She described how Mrs Jones was "gasping for breath".

Earlier, the jury heard the girl's interview with a police officer made the day after April went missing, in which she said they were playing.

She said there was a "man by his van" and she described how she saw April "by the Land Rover van".

"I saw her by the person that was waiting by the van," she said.

She went on to say: "The man didn't take her in the van. She got in the van having a happy face."

Asked who she saw in the Land Rover, she said: "A man."

"The man got out of the van. He was waiting outside the van for someone... I don't know why she wanted to go because her mum and dad told her not to go into cars like that," she said.

Image caption April Jones's friend gave evidence from Aberystwyth via video link

She added: "She got in the car. She wasn't crying. She was happy. She got in the back of the van and it just drove off the same way it came."

She said she did not hear any talking because "I was too far away to hear it".

The friend said April got into the vehicle through the driver's door because the two back doors were locked and "they were broken".

She said April's brother arrived a few minutes later and said it was time for her to go home.

She gave April's bike to her brother and they returned home where the alarm was raised.

'Brown hair'

Describing the man, the girl said: "He had green or blue eyes, brown hair I think... I think he was wearing a jacket or a jumper... he was wearing some jeans and he was wearing some trainers..."

Asked in more detail about the man's appearance, she said: "I think he had brown hair. I'm sure he had brown hair but I'm not sure about anything else."

She said he was "definitely outside" the vehicle and was standing between the Land Rover and a BT van.

The girl gave evidence via video link from Aberystwyth. Two screens in court showed her watching the proceedings. She had a teddy bear on the desk in front of her.

Image caption Mark Bridger is accused of killing April Jones in a sexually motivated attack

Later on Tuesday, defence counsel Brendan Kelly QC questioned the girl about the events of 1 October.

He asked the girl about whether she had a good view of the Land Rover when she saw it.

The girl replied she did but then agreed she only had a "little bit" of a view.

Later, referring to something she had said in her interview with police, Mr Kelly asked: "Were you unclear the night before about what happened, about the Land Rover?"

Girl: "Yes I was. It took a long time for them to understand what I meant about what the Land Rover looked like."

She later confirmed she had described it as grey in colour, and had described it as a van.

The girl's mother, in her evidence, said her daughter had seen a picture of the blue Land Rover on the news on 2 October and said it was the vehicle she had seen.

Image caption Mark Bridger's Land Rover

Later, Mr Kelly asked the girl if she saw the man bending down. She replied "no".

He also asked: "Are you sure that you saw April talking to the man?"

Girl: "Yes, I'm sure I saw April talking to the man."

The jury has previously been told that the defendant told police during interviews he accidentally hit April with his car and "panicked".

Mr Kelly went on to ask the girl if she had seen April on the floor. She said she had not.

She added: "She was talking but she was standing up when she was talking to the man."

Mr Kelly said: "When you say you saw her getting into the car I have to say you are wrong about that.

"You saw her being carried into the car by the man who put her into the front seat."

Later, the court saw a recorded interview from April's older brother, who was told to fetch his sister who was out playing.

He said he went looking for her but could not find her.

He ran to tell his mother and she phoned police.

'Hysterical state'

Mr Bridger watched the screen on the wall to his left during the hearing. There were three security guards in the dock with him.

April's parents, Coral and Paul, were in court on Tuesday.

The trial has now finished for the day and resumes on Wednesday.

On Friday, the jury heard about her parents' last moments with her.

A statement from her mother read out in court said she had been allowed out to play after "a little bit of a tantrum".

Coral Jones later sent April's brother to look for her and he came home in a "hysterical state" saying she had been seen getting into a car with a man.

Mrs Jones immediately called police before she and her husband Paul searched the Bryn-Y-Gog estate.

Prosecutors have told the court that the defendant killed April in a sexually motivated attack and traces of her blood were found at his cottage.

Mr Bridger also denies intending to pervert the course of justice.

The case continues.

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