The mother of April Jones spoke yesterday of the "indestructible pain" of losing her daughter, as killer Mark Bridger was told he would die in prison for her abduction and murder.
Bridger (47) was handed a whole life sentence after being convicted unanimously by a jury at Mold Crown Court. He joins a group of prisoners in Britain, numbering fewer than 50, who have no prospect of release.
April (5) vanished while playing near her home in the village of Machynlleth, Powys, Wales, on 1 October last year. Her remains have never been found.
Bridger, who claimed he accidentally ran over April and then forgot where he had put her because he was in an alcohol-fuelled haze, was also convicted of perverting justice in connection to her missing remains.
He had first been arrested last year while claiming to be helping the £8.5m police search for the missing child.
April's mother, Coral Jones said outside court that she and her husband, Paul, were "relieved" at the outcome but added: "We still do not know where she is and this will always be a very painful thing for us to deal with. April will be forever in our hearts."
It can now be reported for the first time that Bridger, a father-of-six, had told a Catholic prison priest while on remand that he had put April, who suffered from mild cerebral palsy, into a river. His defence team admitted being "shocked" by the apparent confession, which was kept from the jury.
Police made several searches of the River Dovey without success. Bridger may have tried to destroy the body in a wood burner, the court was told, and fragments of bone and blood traces were found at his cottage in Ceinws.
Passing sentence, the judge, Mr Justice Griffith Williams, described Bridger as a "paedophile" and a "pathological liar".
In a heart-breaking victim impact statement, April's mother told the court she would "live with the guilt" of letting her daughter go out to play that night for the rest of her life.
"Words alone cannot describe how we are feeling or how we manage to function on a daily basis, and I would never, ever want any other family to go through what we are and will go through for the rest of our lives," she said. "I still cannot go into her bedroom... the pain of her not being there is indestructible."
Bridger had stored indecent images of children on his computer, the court heard. It was revealed after sentencing that on the day of the abduction he watched and recorded a scene from a horror film in which a gang leader rapes a young teenager.
Before approaching April, Bridger had spoken to three other young girls, leading Mr Justice Griffith Williams to suggest he had been "on the prowl for a young girl" that afternoon.
He told Bridger yesterday there was "compelling evidence" that "demonstrated you are a pathological and glib liar" and added: "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, storing on your laptop not only images of pre-pubescent and pubescent girls, but foul pornography of the gross sexual abuse of young children."
Mr Justice Griffith Williams said April's parents had "lived with the torment of a missing daughter, praying that she would be found alive" and then the realisation that Bridger was "providing the police with no assistance at all as to her whereabouts".
He added: "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."
Bridger's sentence takes the number of "life means life" prisoners in the UK to 48. The list includes Moors murderer Ian Brady and Suffolk Strangler Steve Wright, who murdered five prostitutes in 2008. The Soham killer Ian Huntley received a life sentence for the murders of 10 years olds Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in 2003, but with a 40-year tariff.
This is a transcript of the moment when Coral Jones and her friend Valerie Jones anxiously reported April missing over the phone:
Coral Jones: "Please, my daughter's been kidnapped."
Operator: "Hang on a second, tell me again, what did you say, your dog has been kidnapped?"
CJ: "My daughter was out playing with a friend and she's been kidnapped."
O: "You've been kidnapped?"
CJ: "No my daughter, she's five years old."
O: "Right, bear with me, it's not a very good signal."
CJ: "No, I've got to go, hang on, can you speak to them please?"
Coral then handed the phone to Valerie, who was at the house.
O: "Right, and what makes you think the daughter's been kidnapped?"
VJ: "She's gone off in a car with somebody, somebody's picked her up in a car or something."
O: "What's the name of your daughter, can I take the name?"
VJ: "She's not my daughter, it's my friend's daughter, she's gone panicking, looking."
O: "OK, what's the name of the child who's gone missing?"
VJ: "April Jones."
O: "April, how old is she?"
O: "OK and this happened just literally minutes ago, did it?"
VJ: "Minutes ago, yes."
O: "And have they got details of the vehicle?"
VJ: "She just said it's a big grey car with a man driving."