UK

April Jones Case: Mark Bridger Trial Jury Told 'Strong Evidence' Of Burnt Skull Found In Home

21/05/2013 14:51 BST | Updated 30/05/2013 13:13 BST
PA

Experts found "very strong evidence" of burnt human skull remains at the home of the man accused of murdering April Jones, a jury heard on Tuesday.

An anthropologist told the trial of Mark Bridger that tiny bone fragments were recovered from the fireplace in his living room, but they had been so badly burned that it was impossible to conduct a DNA test.

Former slaughterhouse worker Bridger, 47, denies abducting and murdering five-year-old April, who disappeared last October while playing near her home in Machynellth, mid-Wales.

On the final day of the prosecution case, the jury at Mold Crown Court heard from Dr Julie Roberts, a forensic anthropologist specialising in burnt skeletal remains.

Dr Roberts said she studied five bone fragments found in the debris of a log burning fireplace at Mount Pleasant, Bridger's rented cottage in Ceinws, Powys.

Dr Roberts said: "There is strong evidence to support the view that three fragments are human bone and very strong evidence to support the view they are burnt bone."

The fourth was "more likely to be human than non-human" and the fifth was not possible to determine.

One fragment, selected because of its size, was subjected to a DNA test, she added.

The expert witness said: "It wasn't possible to obtain a DNA profile because it was so badly burned.

"All the fragments are either grey or an off-white colour which indicates severe burning or exposure to high temperatures."

Another bone fragment, studied under a microscope, had features similar to the skull of a child aged between four and eight, the jury heard.

Bridger, wearing a blue shirt, navy spotted tie and spectacles, looked at a television screen in the dock as the jury were shown images of the bone fragments.

Dr Roberts said the fragments of bone were transferred into the fire "in fragments, rather than the remains of a whole body or a head being put into the fire".

Asked by Elwen Evans QC, for the prosecution, whether the transfer could have happened while cleaning of the living room, she said: "Yes, that is a possibility, but it's not the only interpretation of why the fragments are there."

April, who had cerebral palsy, vanished while playing on her bike with her best friend near their homes on Machynlleth's Bryn-Y-Gog estate on 1 October last year.

Her body was never found despite the biggest search operation in British policing history.

The prosecution say Bridger snatched and murdered the schoolgirl in a "sexually motivated" attack.

The trial continues.

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Mark Bridger Trial