April Jones murder trial begins: 'Schoolgirl's blood found in Mark Bridger's home'

The trial of Mark Bridger, the man who is alleged to have murdered April Jones, began today with the revelation that the blood of the missing schoolgirl was found in the former lifeguard's living room, hallway and bathroom.

A jury at Mold Crown Court was told that Bridger, 47, had carried out an 'extensive clean-up operation' after killing the five-year-old last October.

The prosecution say April's best friend saw him snatch the 'happy and smiling' child in his Land Rover near her home in Machynlleth, mid-Wales, as she rode her bike.

Her body has never been found.

The court heard that Bridger was fixated with child pornography, rape and murder, with pictures of April and Ian Huntley's victims Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman saved on his computer a week before he killed.

Prosecutor Elwen Evans QC said the murder was 'sexually motivated' and Bridger 'played a cruel game' by trying to hide the murder. Miss Evans told the jury of nine women and three men that April was seen getting into the defendant's Land Rover.

"He drove her away and that was the last that anyone apart from the defendant saw of April. The largest search in British policing history has failed to find her," she said.

"April's best friend saw the abduction taking place. She saw the defendant speaking to April.

"She saw April getting into his Land Rover vehicle and she saw the defendant taking April away."

The lawyer went on to describe how Bridger himself admits that 'it is he who drove her away. He admits April is dead'.

Bridger claims that he ran over April in his Land Rover, put her in his car and drove her around the village with her 'dead or dying' in his car.

"He accepts that he must have got rid of her body. He says he can't remember what happens thereafter. He says he was too drunk," Miss Evans said.

"Mark Bridger abducted April. He murdered her and he went to enormous length to try to cover up what he had done. His actions were sexually motived. He knows full well what he has done to April but chooses not to say."

The prosecutor said he had performed an 'extensive clean up to try to get rid of any evidence' at his home, which included 'disposing of April's body and all of her clothes'.

"Despite his best efforts, the defendant failed to get rid of all the evidence," she added.

"Traces of blood were found in the living room, hallway and bathroom and the DNA matches April's DNA."

A 'concentration' of blood was found in front of his wood burner, close to a number of knives and a badly burned 'boning knife'.

Bridger was an 'experienced swordsman' and knew how to use knives, the court heard. Small fragments of unidentifiable bones were also found at his house.

He had split up with his girlfriend on the day he abducted April and had tried to meet up with other women before taking her, the lawyer added.

Miss Evans said analysis of Bridger's computer use showed 'context and motive' for his behaviour towards April. Just over a week before killing April, Bridger saved pictures of her on his computer.

There were also 'images of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman,' the lawyer said.

"His computer, it shows this is a man who has a clear interest in child pornography and in child murder cases.

"I'm afraid we will have to view examples together, to give you a picture of what was on that computer.

"The images depict adults having sex with girls, some consensual, some non-consensual."

The jury heard some of the search terms found on Bridger's laptop included 'Naked young five-year-old girls' and 'nudism five-year-old' and 'France: British schoolgirl raped and murdered'.

Bridger, of Ceinws, denies abducting and murdering April, and of unlawfully disposing of and concealing her body with intent to pervert the course of justice.

The trial could last seven weeks, the judge has said.