UK

April Jones Case: Mark Bridger Trial Jury Told Of How Accused Ran Over 'Little Blonde Haired Girl'

22/05/2013 17:32 BST | Updated 30/05/2013 13:12 BST

The former slaughterhouse worker accused of abducting and murdering schoolgirl April Jones in a "sexually motivated" attack was questioned by his defence in court on Wednesday.

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.

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.

April's mother Coral left the public gallery as Bridger got to the point where he told the jury he accidentally run over the girl in his car.

"It's getting to the point where I was going to move off, I had had enough to drink. It was starting to get dark."

Bridger said as he was thinking of moving off he saw two young girls.

"I started the car up, put lights on, at that split second I went to put it in gear, my car had been playing up for a couple of days, I struggled to get it into gear.

april jones mark bridger

Bridger taking the oath

"As I went to move off, didn't go more than half a wheel turn, one of the girls came from behind the car, inbetween the BT van and my car.

"It was the little blonde haired girl, I know to be April, that came in front of me.

"I turned to look to my right to see where the dark haired girl was and she was doing loops on her bike.

"As I looked forward again the other girl had gone, my wheels had already turned as I started to pull away there was a little pink bike on the floor.

"There was this bike either leaned up or dropped against the floor.

"As I went to pull away the car rose up on one side, my driver's side.

"I didn't travel more than inches and it rose up, checked the hand brake was off. Went to do that two times and realised there was a problem.

"I got out of my vehicle. I went around to the front of my car, the front is very high, I don't know whether I knelt down or bent down to have a look, that's when I saw."

Fighting back tears, Bridger continued: "That's when I saw a little person, a child pushed up against the front wheel, my drivers wheel, on the car.

"I don't know what I grabbed, an arm or leg, as I pulled her out she was limp.

"So I picked her up and held her head. I scooped her up and her arms and legs were floppy.

"I don't remember talking to her but from all the training as a first aider your first response is to talk or pinch to get a response."

Bridger said he put the girl on his passenger seat.

"I remember checking for her breath, I remember checking for a pulse, I remember checking her eyes. I remember giving her mouth to mouth."

Bridger continued: "I had torches in the car. I checked her eyes and they were not with us. There was no reaction, I then knew I needed to get help so I jumped in the car and left the area."

Other courtroom developments include:

  • Bridger admitted lying about having a military past in the SAS
  • Bridger's defence outlined his previous convictions in order demonstrate none of them were for crimes of a sexual nature
  • Bridger admitted drinking "excessively" since around 2010 and that "sadly" he was happy to drive while under the influence
  • He has also been taking anti-depressants for the last 12 years
  • When Mr Kelly asked the defendant about the indecent images on his laptop, Bridger told the court he had written letters to the companies publishing them on the internet to complain
  • Asked about the indecent cartoon images which show child sexual abuse, Bridger said: "I actually came across that accidentally while looking up some cartoon thing for my daughter...she was into Spongebob Squarepants."
  • Bridger admitted having "erectile function problems".
  • On the morning of April's disappearance Bridger woke at 2am and immediately drank a can of cider something he did "every day".
  • Bridger looked at 32 images of a local 14-year-old girl on Facebook between 12.01 to 12.06. He said he wanted to speak to the girl's mother about "certain things"
  • He broke down in the witness box as he said: "I needed to find out whether (the girl) was my daughter."

April's mother left the courtroom as Bridger described the point where he told the jury he accidentally run over the girl in his car

Bridger told the jury that his memory had begun failing from the moment he drove off.

He said: "I still do not recall having little April in my car."

Mr Kelly asked: "April's blood has been found on the floor in your lounge. Can you explain how it got there?"

Bridger said "no", adding that he only remembered "certain things" about that night.

"I don't remember picking her up or taking her into my house at all. There are certain things that are coming back to me."

He said he remembered taking off a beige fleece and perhaps putting it in the washing machine.

He then told the jury that he had started remembering putting April on the floor in his living room.

He said: "It's something that's come to me over the last number of months. I don't know whether it was what happened that night or if it's something that has come into my mind."

"I have no recollection of getting to the house. I have a recollection of this beige jumper. The only other recollection I have is having April and laying her down on the carpet."

He said when he woke up the following morning he thought he had had a nightmare.

"I really thought it was a nightmare. I had had a nightmare or a dream," Bridger said.

Asked by Mr Kelly if he had cleaned his house of evidence, Bridger replied: "I don't remember any clean-up but I would like to say if that night there was blood dripped on the bath where I have washed my jumper I would, if I had seen it, I would have automatically wiped it. But it was not to try and hide anything. It would have been an automatic thing to do."

He also denied cleaning up the inside of his car.

Asked about if he knew anything about "skeleton" fragments allegedly found in his wood burner, Bridger said: "No. I don't believe I could have done that."

Coming to the end of answering questions from his barrister, Bridger said: "I obviously was involved, I don't ever deny being involved with April's death.

"I didn't run. I didn't hide, I didn't go anywhere. I didn't know what to do.

"Initially I really thought I would have been charged with either death by reckless driving or death by drink driving.

"I did not expect to be on a murder charge."

Mr Kelly concluded his questions with the following exchange with the defendant.

"Mr Bridger, did you abduct April Jones?" he said.

"No. There was no intention of abducting April Jones," Bridger replied.

"Did you have any form of sexual contact with April Jones that night?"

"No. None at all."

Finally Mr Kelly asked: "Mr Bridger did you deliberately kill April Jones that night?"

"No I didn't," the defendant replied.

Bridger will be cross-examined later this afternoon.