"Evil" Mark Bridger was a fantasist and control freak who sexually abused April Jones, murdered and dismembered her, then calmly disposed of her body said the police officer that lead the hunt for her.
Bridger stacked lie upon lie in the aftermath of the murder as he tried to cover his tracks.
He repeatedly wept in court as he painted himself as a man who had "accidentally" run over a child and then panicked before blacking out due to alcohol.
April's body has still not been found
But it did not take detectives or the jury long to realise that Bridger was:
- A pervert obsessed with underage girls and child murder;
- An impotent alcoholic who was bitter after being dumped by his girlfriend;
- A man who stalked local teenage girls on Facebook and who searched for horrific images of child sexual abuse on the internet;
- A man who used the fact that five-year-old April would have known him as being the father of a girl she knew at school to lure her into his car and back to his cottage.
Detective Superintendent Andy John, who led the hunt for April's killer, said: "Mark Bridger is an evil and manipulative individual. I think we have clearly identified during the course of our inquiries and during the course of the investigation that he is somebody who fantasises, he is somebody who likes to be in control and clearly believes that what he says is the true version of events.
"He is somebody that can't be trusted and, ultimately, he is somebody who has committed the most horrific of crimes."
Police believe Bridger, who was experienced in "survival and bushcraft", dismembered April in his lounge before getting rid of her body in the forests and waterways in the hills surrounding his home.
Mr John said: "I think that the body has been dismembered and various parts of the remains have been placed in different areas and possibly those remains have been so small and damaged that that's why we have had such difficulty in locating them.
"He knows the geography of the area. We've got the rivers close by and the rivers were fast flowing and at the time this offence occurred they would have been very high.
"We can't rule out that body parts may have gone into the river. We can't rule out that certain parts would have been burnt."
Mr John said he believed that April was sexually assaulted by Bridger before she suffered "significant harm" but he did not think she was a "specific target."
He said Bridger's life was spiralling out of control after he had been dumped by his girlfriend and he was also having financial difficulties.
"I think that April Jones happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and as a result was abducted," he said.
After his arrest Bridger tried to baffle officers with tales of an heroic past.
Bridger, originally from south London, told police he had "worked as a mercenary in Angola and he had been to Belize".
He said he had been "trained by an SAS unit in Burma" and that he had been "seconded" to the British Army.
Military records were checked and his account was revealed to be a lie.
Police gathered more and more evidence about the horrific truth behind April's disappearance.
The youngster's blood was found all over Bridger's cottage and a boning knife - obtained from his time as a slaughterman - was found to have been burned in the fire to eradicate DNA traces.
Bridger, who the prosecution said was "forensically aware", had cleaned his Mount Pleasant cottage in the tiny hamlet of Ceinws from top to bottom.
Police who were first on the scene commented that it smelt strongly of bleach and detergents.
Mr John said: "After committing the most horrific of crimes, he has then gone on to destroy evidence to the best of his ability. He has tried to conceal his involvement and avoid detection."
Mr John said he had gone to "enormous lengths" to clean up his home and that video was taken from a police helicopter the morning after April went missing showed Bridger calmly walking his dog.
Mr John said this was Bridger "back in control, back to normal" after disposing of April's body. Not panicking, as he later tried to make out.
"I think he is hoping at that time that this has gone down and he has got away with it," Mr John added.
Investigators discovered that Bridger appeared to have an obsession with the violent subjugation of young women and children as disturbing images were found stored in a library of pornography on his Acer laptop.
Members of the jury were visibly distressed when they were asked to view a selection of the horrific images which included photographs of an apparently dead naked girl being hanged, cartoon images of child rape, a photograph of a Thai girl apparently raped and murdered and an image of a pregnant eight-year-old from the Philippines.
Bridger told police he was hoarding the most disturbing of these images, of which almost 400 were found on his laptop, as "proof" so he could complain about them to the companies in charge of the websites.
Hi-tech crime investigators also discovered Bridger had used internet search terms such as: "Naked young 5 year old girls", "British girl murdered in France", "ten year old girls naked", "young little virgins", and "pictures of ten year old girls".
He claimed that he had been doing "research" into the breast development of young girls so he could better advise his daughter, who he said was an "aspiring model".
On hearing these excuses read to them during three days of evidence from the defendant's police interviews, some members of the jury shook their heads in disbelief.
At one point the jury even requested that Bridger not be allowed to view the selection of images gathered from his laptop when they had to be viewed for a second time in the trial.
A note passed to Judge Griffith Williams from the jury said a few members were "very uncomfortable that the defendant is viewing these images, having viewed them previously".
It was agreed that Bridger's screen in the dock would be switched off for any further evidence from his laptop.
In court Bridger, who could be seen with a large snake tattoo on his forearm, often wept when describing what he claimed happened to April.
But he wept most when he felt a piece of testimony or evidence might be backing up his wild claims.
Mr John said: "Mark Bridger was someone who went through various emotions during the interviews, and I think this has come through in court as well. On occasions when he was speaking about matters that he was comfortable with he came across as very confident.
"He was very articulate. But once you delved into areas and challenged him about matters that he didn't want to talk about he would break down and start becoming very emotional and he would try and move on to another area he was comfortable with. That was a common theme that we saw throughout and we have seen it through the course of the trial."
When one forensic scientist said he could not say for sure that an assault took place in Mount Pleasant, Bridger openly wept and nodded.
But when the same scientist added that this did not mean an assault did not take place outside the house and Bridger brought April inside, he regained his composure.
The tears were not for April or what he had done to her but for himself and the misery of his impending life behind bars.
Suggested For You
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more