The former slaughterhouse worker accused of abducting and murdering schoolgirl April Jones in a "sexually motivated" attack has admitted to a jury that he lied about having a military past.
Mark Bridger, 47, of Ceinws, mid-Wales, denies abduction, murder and intending to pervert the course of justice by disposing of, concealing or destroying April's body.
Today Bridger took to the witness box and answered questions from his barrister, Brendan Kelly QC, about his history and about why he told the police he had been trained by the SAS and seconded to the British army.
Bridger's voice broke as he took the oath and he had a drink of water and appeared to compose himself before entering his testimony.
Mr Kelly asked him: "You were asked a number of questions about your military experience. Have you ever been employed by the military?"
Bridger, wearing a light blue short-sleeved shirt with a clearly visible snake tattoo on his left forearm, said: "No, I have not."
"Have you in the past told people that you have been employed by the military?" Mr Kelly asked.
He said: "Yes I have."
When Mr Kelly asked why he had told people that lie, Bridger responded: "When I moved close to the Machynlleth area everyone seemed to want to know who I was, where I was from, my past, my present.
"So I had always been interested in the military. I just said I am ex-military and people just took that as what I did.
"I didn't want them to know I had had problems with my past. That stuck with me for...until now."
Bridger told Mold Crown Court that he was born on 6 November 1965 in Surrey and had served as an engineering apprentice after failing to complete an engineering diploma at Croydon College.
After working as a welder for some time he began work as a firefighter at the London Fire Brigade.
But he told the court he had to quit after six months when he was 19 or 20 when his girlfriend got pregnant.
He said: "I had personal problems. I had split up with my partner at the time. We had just had a baby."
He said he left the area and moved to Wales when he fell out with his parents over the baby as there were "complications" with them seeing the child.
"In a short while I had major arguments with the family and lost contact," he told the jury.
He said when he moved to Wales he had nothing and was at first living in a tent on the beach when he was about 21 or 22 before he got a job.
April's disappearance, on 1 October last year, sparked the biggest search operation in British policing history. Her body has never been found.
The prosecution say Bridger snatched and murdered April in a "sexually motivated" attack.
Bridger says he accidentally killed April when he ran her over and accepts that he must have got rid of her body.
But he says he cannot remember how he disposed of the body because he was suffering memory loss caused by alcohol and panic.
Earlier the trial heard Bridger had viewed images of child pornography on his laptop on the day April went missing and that forensic investigators discovered traces of April's blood in Bridger's living room, hall and bathroom.
The jury was taken through Bridger's past criminal convictions.
He had always pleaded guilty in court in the past and had no convictions for sexual offences or child porn.
The first, when he was 19, was at the Old Bailey, for which he received two years probation.
Bridger pleaded guilty to the attempted taking of a car, possession of a firearm, having an imitation firearm, theft and two counts of obtaining property by deception.
He said the charges arose when he was going to private land owned by a friend to fire some blanks and it was 15 miles away, so he tried to open a car door to take it and was spotted, stopped and police called. He also wrote cheques from a stolen chequebook, he said.
He told the jury he had no intention of robbing a post office, as the prosecution at the time claimed.
In January 1991 he pleaded guilty at Aberystwth Magistrates' Court to criminal damage, affray and having no insurance, arising out of a "road rage" incident when he hit the bonnet of another driver's car with his hand.
The following year he was convicted for more motoring matters, driving while disqualified and without insurance.
The trial continues.
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