Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Girl 'saw April get in Land Rover'

Mark Bridger denies murdering five-year-old April Jones (Dyfed-Powys Police/PA)
Five-year-old April Jones disappeared while playing with her friend near their homes in Machynlleth, Powys, Mid Wales, last October (Dyfed-Powys Police/PA)
Floral tributes and a single candle burns outside the former home of Mark Bridger in Ceinws, Mid Wales

A young friend of April Jones has described seeing the missing schoolgirl "get into a grey Land Rover".

A DVD of police interviews with the seven-year-old, who cannot be identified because of her age, was played to the jury in Mark Bridger's trial at Mold Crown Court.

Five-year-old April vanished while playing with her friend near their homes in Machynlleth, Powys, Mid Wales, on October 1 last year. The prosecution say April was abducted by Bridger, 47, who drove her off in his Land Rover Discovery and murdered her.

The film of the child witness's statement to police, recorded the day after April disappeared, was played to the jury as the girl watched on a video-link from Aberystwyth. She appeared on the video-link with a white teddy bear and a mug of juice, with an adult who was partially off screen sitting next to her.

In the interview, the girl sat on a sofa playing with a brown rabbit cuddly toy. She told police they had been playing on the Bryn-Y-Gog estate the previous evening when she saw April "by a Land Rover van".

The girl said: "I saw her by the person that was waiting by the van. She did not say she was going to go in it. I know they (April's parents) wouldn't let her go at that time. The man didn't take her in the van - she got into the van, having a happy face she had and she wasn't upset."

During her evidence, court officials, including Judge Mr Justice Griffith-Williams, did not wear their wigs or robes. There were breaks every 10 or 15 minutes to ensure she did not "tire or lose concentration", the judge told the jury.

Former slaughterhouse worker Bridger, of Ceinws, claims he accidentally killed April with his Land Rover and cannot remember what he did with the body. He denies abduction, murder and intending to pervert the course of justice by disposing of, concealing or destroying April's body.

The interviewing police officer then asked the girl to draw a picture of the Land Rover she saw and describe the vehicle in greater detail. She said: "I saw the man get out of the van. He was waiting outside the van for someone, I don't know who. I don't think it would be April he would be waiting for. I don't know why April would want to get into the van because her mum and dad told her not to get into vans like that. She wasn't crying, she was happy."

Asked what happened next, the girl said April's brother came over and said it was time for her to come home. "Then I said what happened and I gave April's bike back to him and got on my bike. He came back and I told his mum. His mum called the police."

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