April Jones 'happy' as she 'got into vehicle'

A friend who was playing with April Jones on the night she went missing told police that the schoolgirl had a "happy face" as she got into a vehicle near her home in Machynlleth.

Mold Crown Court heard the child witness describe April getting into a grey Land Rover.

Carole Green reports.

A recording of police interviews with the seven-year-old girl on the day after April went missing was played to the court.

She said they had been playing on the estate where April lived, when she saw April with a man by a Land Rover van.

"The man didn't take her in the van - she got in the van having a happy face... she wasn't upset."

The girl was playing with April on the Bryn-y-Gog estate.

She told the officer it was "a grey Land Rover... it looks quite familiar."

When asked how she knew it was a Land Rover, she said it was because her mother showed her a picture of a Land Rover, which looked "exactly the same."

She was asked to draw a picture of the vehicle, and said she was "trying to draw a Land Rover."

The police officer asked her to describe what she's drawn, and she described it a grey, with 'Land Rover' on the front, and muddy wheels.

The girl told police she saw a man getting out of a van, and he looked as though he was waiting for somebody.

"I don't think it would be April he was waiting for", she said.

"She got in the car, the man didn't put her in the car, but she did. She wasn't crying and she was happy. She got in the back of the van and it just drove off", she said.

The girl told police she saw April Jones talking with the man, although she couldn't hear what they were saying.

She described the man as having brown hair, green or brown eyes, and she thought he was wearing a green jacket.

She said he "got into the van when April got into the van."

Paul and Coral Jones were in court again today, wearing pink ribbons for their daughter.

The girl, who cannot be named because of her age, appeared via videolink from Aberystwyth.

She was sitting beside a teddy bear, which she cuddled at times.

During her evidence, court officials did not wear their wigs or robes.

There were breaks every few minutes to ensure she did not "tire or lose concentration", the judge told the jury.

After the recorded police interview ended, the child witness was cross-examined by defence barrister Brendan Kelly QC.

He asked how the girl saw the colour of the man's eyes, when she admitted she was too far away to see.

She said "I was guessing."

Asked if she guessed about anything else, she replied "no."

The barrister also queried her telling police that April had climbed into the driver's side of a Land Rover vehicle, and the girl responded that she was sure of that.

He asked, when she drew the Land Rover in the police interview, "were you drawing what your mum had shown you or were your drawing what you had seen?"

"I was drawing what I had seen", she replied.

He asked if she saw April on the floor and she replied "she was talking but she was standing up."

The defence barrister asserted that what the witness saw was the man carrying April onto the front seat. She replied that she saw her on the back seat, that she first got into the front seat and then climbed into the back. "The man didn't carry her into the front seat", she said.

Mold Crown Court heard last week that the defendant Mark Bridger told police he accidentally ran over April Jones and then put her into his Land Rover to go to look for help.

The child witness' mother gave evidence this afternoon.

She said that, after April and her daughter had been out playing, she and April's mother were chatting while April's brother went out to look for the girls.

She says Coral Jones was in a "state of panic" when she was told April had allegedly been taken, she was gasping for breath and collapsed on the floor.

A police interview with April's brother was played to the jury this afternoon. It was recorded on 20 October, nearly three weeks after she went missing. He was 10 then, and is now 11.

He said: "Mum said go and pick April up so I went and she wasn't there. I saw her friend and she said April had got into a van. I ran to mum and knocked on the door and told her. She told police and told me to get all my friends so I knocked on all my friends' doors."

Asked what words he used to his mother, he said he told her: "April's got in a car and been kidnapped or something."

Mr Bridger, 47 and from Machynlleth, denies abduction, murder and perverting the course of justice. The trial, at Mold Crown Court, continues tomorrow.

April has not been seen since 1 October last year. Credit: Family photograph