UK

April Jones Murderer Mark Bridger Sentenced To Whole Life In Prison

30/05/2013 15:03 BST | Updated 30/05/2013 16:08 BST

Mark Bridger, who abducted and murdered five-year-old April Jones before disposing of her remains, was given a whole life sentence at Mold Crown Court.

Bridger, 47, was given a whole life sentence by trial judge Mr Justice Griffith Williams after he was convicted by a jury at Mold Crown Court of April's abduction and murder and of perverting the course of justice by unlawfully disposing, destroying or concealing her body.

Bridger stood impassively as sentence was handed down but shook his head when the judge addressed his perverted interest in violent child abuse.

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Mark Bridger is led to a police van

The judge called him a "pathological and glib liar," adding: "There is no doubt in my mind that you are a paedophile, who has for some time harboured sexual and morbid fantasies about young girls."

The judge said Bridger had stored on his laptop "not only images of pre-pubescent and pubescent girls but foul pornography of the gross sexual abuse of young children.

"What prompted you on Monday October 1 to live out one of those fantasies is a matter for speculation, but it may have been a combination of the ending of one sexual relationship and your drinking.

"Whatever, you set out to find a little girl to abuse. I am not sure you targeted April specifically - it was probably fortuitous that she can be seen on some of the images which you stored on your laptop of her older sister - but you were on the prowl for a young girl."

He said that the happy five-year-old "would not have been afraid of you, partly because you have some charm and she may well have seen you about the estate and probably because you let her know your son was a friend of her brother.. And so it was that, innocently and trustingly, April got into your Land Rover smiling and happy."

"You abducted her for a sexual purpose and then murdered her and disposed of her body to hide the evidence of your sexual abuse of her, which probably occurred on the way from the estate to your home because there is some 60 minutes of your time which cannot be accounted for.

"I cannot infer from the evidence where you murdered her but if she was alive when you took her to the house, she died there.

"The grief of April's parents cannot be over-stated. They lived with the torment of a missing daughter, praying that she would be found alive and then, following your arrest, with the knowledge that you were providing the police with no assistance at all as to her whereabouts.

"To add to that torment, they have had to endure the spectacle of your hypocritical sympathy for their loss and of your tears, flowing not because of any regret for your crimes, but because of your enduring self-pity."

He said he had "no doubt" that the only appropriate sentence was a whole life order.

Earlier, April Jones's mother Coral described in heart-breaking terms the impact of her daughter's death.

Mrs Jones, in a victim impact statement read to the court by prosecutor Elwen Evans, said April was born prematurely, weighing only 4lb and 2oz, and was in intensive care for two weeks.

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April's body has still not been found

Mrs Jones said she had to watch her other children, "grieve for the loss of their little sister who they would carry upstairs because sometimes she was in too much pain to walk".

"She fought to come into the world, she fought to stay in this world, and he has taken her, not only from us, but from everyone who loved her.

"I will never see her smile again or hear her stomping around upstairs and onto the landing.

"We will never see her bring home her first boyfriend and Paul will never walk her down the aisle.

"How will we ever get over it?"

Mrs Jones, with her hair dyed red and wearing a patterned blouse, stared at the defendant as he was brought in.

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.

Bridger apparently confided in the prison chaplain, telling him he may have disposed of April's body in a river.

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The screen in the dock was taken down just before the sentencing hearing so Mr and Mrs Jones would have a clear view of the defendant.

Bridger nodded and closed his eyes when his barrister Brendan Kelly QC said it was likely that he would spend the rest of his life in prison.

In a very brief speech Mr Kelly said there was very little, "if any", mitigation available to him.

He said he was "loathe" to raise the issue but one area of mitigation was the fact there was only one victim in the case and that Bridger "was not a repeat offender."

In a statement, Ed Beltrami, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS Wales, said: "Ever since his first interview with police in October last year, Mark Bridger has relentlessly spun a web of lies and half-truths to try and distance himself from the truly horrific nature of the crime he perpetrated.

"He has refused to take responsibility for what he did to April and has stopped at nothing to try and cover his tracks."

He added: "Working together, we have been able to comprehensively dismantle Bridger's version of events and expose him as a violent, cold-hearted murderer and a calculated liar.

"I would like to record our thanks to everyone who supported the prosecution of this case. Everyone who has provided a statement to police or given evidence in court has played their part in today's verdict.

"At the very heart of this case are April's family, who have been through - and continue to go through - an ordeal of appalling magnitude. They have conducted themselves with a humbling dignity throughout.

"We can only hope that today's verdict will be of some help to them as they continue to try and come to terms with the loss of April."

Phillip Noyes, acting CEO of the NSPCC, said: "It seems Bridger lived in a fantasy world which included looking at child abuse images online.

"For some time we have been concerned about the growing number of these obscene images which are becoming more easily available and can fuel the fantasies of offenders like Bridger.

"This case points to the ever-growing evidence that there is a worrying link between looking at this vile kind of material and committing other serious sexual assaults.

"April's death will hopefully lead to effective measures to stamp out this vile trade."