April Jones accused Mark Bridger weeps as murder and abduction charges are read to him
46-year-old cried to himself as the charges, which also include the unlawful disposal and concealment of a body with the intent to pervert the course of justice, were put to him
The man accused of the abduction and murder of missing five-year-old April Jones wept in court today.
46-year-old Mark Bridger cried to himself as the charges, which also include the unlawful disposal and concealment of a body with the intent to pervert the course of justice, were read out to him.
Standing in the dock of Aberystwyth Magistrates Court, the former lifeguard confirmed his name, age and address, adding that he understood the charges.
He was remanded in custody and will next appear at Caernarfon Crown Court on Wednesday.
Bridger was brought into court wearing a blue jumper. His faced looked red and flushed and he was unshaven.
He gazed down at the floor inside the dock area of the court, enclosed in protective glass. .
His eyes were tearful before he answered any questions and he appeared to be struggling to hold back his weeping.
The court clerk read out each charge individually, asking Bridger if he understood.
When the murder charge was read out he answered “yes” with a tremor in his voice and tears in his eyes.
He answered “yes” twice more to confirm he had understood each charge.
When his name was read out, he said: “That is correct.”
He answered “correct” to confirm that his date of birth was November 6, 1965, and said the same for his Mount Pleasant farmhouse address at the village Ceinws.
John Hedgecoe was defending Bridger. Iwan Jenkins, district crown prosecutor, was prosecuting. Neither were called upon to speak during the brief hearing.
There were angry scenes outside the court as Bridger left the court after a delay to serve him an early lunch.
The police van carrying him was punched and kicked as it drove out of a covered area within the court precincts and angry members of the crowd outside shouted “Scum” and “F****** kill him” as the police van sped off chased by several people.
Earlier this morning, around 100 people lined the streets and heckled the white van containing Bridger as it swept into the courts secure car park accompanied by three police cars.
At one point an object, which initial media reports suggest was either a shoe or a bottle, was thrown at the van. Police rushed to restrain the angry crowd and ensure they did not break through a police cordon.
Also sitting at the rear of the court was Superintendent Ian John, who has led the search for April.
Afterwards he returned to Machynlleth to continue co-ordinating the on-going operation to find the body of April.
April, who suffers from cerebral palsy and needs daily medication, was last seen near her home on the Bryn-y-Gog estate in Machynlleth on Monday evening. Bridger was arrested the following day.
A witness saw the schoolgirl step into what is believed to have been a Land Rover Discovery last Monday evening.
Her parents Coral Jones, 40, and husband Paul, 44, allowed her to play out late as a treat after she received a glowing school report that day at a parents' evening which Bridger also attended.
Bridger, who owns a Discovery, was arrested the following day and charged on Saturday after four days of questioning.
Mrs Jones issued a new appeal to continue efforts to find her daughter today.
In a message posted on Facebook, she said: “April has still not been found, I am not giving up hope that she will come home, so please keep looking for my baby girl April.
”She's our world, the whole family are in bits as we don't know where she is.“
More than 700 people packed into Machynlleth's St Peter's Church yesterday to attend an emotional service for the schoolgirl.
Reverend Kathleen Rogers led the moving sermon, in which she said: ”The realisation is coming on since yesterday when we heard murder - that has hit home.“
Reverend Rogers said prayers for April's parents and paid tribute to the community who had pulled together to help in the search.
She read a touching poem on behalf of April's mother called ”Mum“ as the Bishop of Bangor, Reverend Andy John, said the tight-knit community had ”touched the heart of people around the world“.
He revealed that emails had been received from as far afield as South Africa and New Zealand - with a church in Texas even making a donation.
Mountain rescue teams were stood down last night as the search operation switched emphasis.
Meanwhile the hunt goes on, with investigating officers revealing police numbers on the ground were doubled this morning.
Night time search efforts have been suspended, with the shift in manpower being described as a change of ”resources rather intensity“.
Superintendent John paid tribute to mountain rescue volunteers ”who have worked themselves to a standstill in the search for April“.
He added: ”We are upping our numbers to 18 teams which will be over 100 officers.”
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