'Mark Bridger's actions sexually motivated', court told

The man accused of murdering schoolgirl April Jones had 'a clear interest in child pornography and child murder cases', Mold Crown Court was told today.

April vanished while playing near her home in Machynlleth on October 1st last year. Despite one of the largest searches in police history, her body has never been found.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Elwen Evans QC alleged that Mr Bridger's actions were 'sexually motivated'.

The prosecution case is this: that Mark Bridger abducted April. That he murdered her and that he went to enormous lengths to try to cover up what he had done.

It's our case that the defendant's actions - abduction, murder, covering up what he has done - that his actions were sexually motivated.

He has played, we say, a cruel game in pretending not to know what he has done to her.

It's a game to try and save himself and try to manipulate his way out of his full responsibility in what he has done.

– Elwen Evans QC, prosecuting

A jury of nine women and three men heard that indecent images had been searched for and saved on Mark Bridger's laptop.

They also heard the computer contained images of local girls, including April's half-sisters who were aged 13 and 16, as well as child murder victims including Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman from the Soham case.

On the day April disappeared, the court was told, Mr Bridger had viewed a sexual cartoon image online.

Outlining the forensic case against him, Miss Evans then told the court that blood matching April's DNA and bone fragments had been found at the cottage where Mark Bridger lived in Ceinws, three miles from Machynlleth.

Mr Bridger had carried out an 'extensive clean-up' but had failed to get rid of all the evidence, it is alleged. Around the wood burner were a number of knives, the court heard, including a burnt boning knife.

April's parents Coral and Paul Jones sat in the public gallery throughout

April was 'happy and smiling' on the day she disappeared, Miss Evans said, and was last seen by an eyewitness getting into a vehicle which matched the description of Mark Bridger's.

The jury was told Mr Bridger accepts that he 'probably killed' April but cannot remember what he did with her body.

Miss Evans said Mr Bridger told police he accidentally ran April over, then drove her around Machynlleth while she was 'dead or dying'.

She went on: "Thereafter he doesn't know, he can't remember what he did to April.

"He can't remember because of a combination of drink, adrenaline and raw panic."

The 999 call made by April's mother following her daughter's disappearance was also played to jurors.

April's parents Coral and Paul Jones sat in the public gallery throughout, wearing pink ribbons in tribute to their daughter.

Mr Bridger, wearing a light blue, short-sleeved shirt and striped tie, sat staring ahead as he listened to the evidence.

At times he appeared emotional and wiped away tears with a tissue.

He denies abducting and murdering the five-year-old, as well as attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The prosecution is expected to continue outlining its case tomorrow.