April Jones murder trial: Mark Bridger begins whole life sentence

April’s mother said she would ‘live with the guilt’ of letting her daughter go out for the rest of her life

The mother of April Jones spoke 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, five, vanished while playing near her home in the village of Machynlleth, Powys, 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.

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 Coral 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 to sort out her clothes because 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 the 2009 “slasher” horror film, The Last House On The Left, in which a gang leader rapes a young teenager.

Before approaching April, who suffered from mild cerebral palsy, 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.

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 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 April’s body in a wood burner, the court was told, and fragments of bone and blood traces were found at his cottage in Ceinws.

Mr Justice Griffith Williams told Bridger there was “compelling evidence” that “demonstrated you are a pathological and glib liar”. He 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.”

The judge 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.”

The sentence takes the number of “life means life” prisoners in the UK to 48. The list includes Moors murderer Ian Brady and the “Suffolk Strangler” Steve Wright, who murdered five prostitutes in Ipswich in 2008. The Soham killer Ian Huntley received a life sentence for the murders of 10-year-olds Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in 2003, but with a 40-year minimum tariff.  Earlier this month, Stuart Hazell, who killed schoolgirl Tia Sharp in New Addington, south London, avoided a whole-life term after a judge decided his crime could not be ruled for certain as pre-meditated or sexually motivated.

April’s mother, Coral, said outside court that she and her husband, Paul, were “relieved” at the outcome but she 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.”

Ed Beltrami, chief Crown prosecutor for CPS Wales, said: “Since his first interview with police in October last year, Mark Bridger has relentlessly spun a web of lies and half-truths to try to distance himself from the truly horrific nature of the crime he perpetrated.”

The family’s statement

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.

April was born prematurely, weighing only 4lb 2oz, and was in intensive care for two weeks.We later found out that she had a hole in her heart and a heart murmur. When she was three we noticed that she was becoming clumsy, so after numerous visits to the doctors, they finally diagnosed April with cerebral palsy.

She became a guinea pig for other children, in that she was measured for a special suit to support her growing bones and if this suit was successful they would make suits for other children.

We would have to massage her legs and get her to do exercises because she would have pain in her legs constantly. She very rarely moaned about the pain and would be always on the go, wanting to go out to play with her friends.

April ruled our lives. She was the youngest and because of her various disabilities, we would have to provide some kind of care for her all the time. Paul would get her ready for school and then I would be there when she came home. I still cannot go into her bedroom to sort out her clothes, because the pain of her not being there is indescribable. I will never forget the night of 1 October 2012. This was the night that we allowed our daughter April to go out to play with her friends, something she has done hundreds of times before, and this is the night that she never came home.

As April’s mother I will live with the guilt of letting her go out to play on the estate that night for the rest of my life.

She fought to come into the world, she fought to stay in this world, and he has taken her not only  from us, but from everyone who loved her.

I will never see her smile again or hear her stomping around upstairs and on to the landing. We will never see her bring home her first boyfriend and Paul will never walk her down the aisle. How will we ever get over it?

Further reading

Profile: Mark Bridger was an alcoholic paedophile who lived out sexual fantasies on the internet

Mark Bridger watched brutal rape film before April Jones murder

Bridger's cottage should 'no longer exist', say parents of murder victim April Jones

April had a 'tantrum' so she could play out with friends on the night of her abduction

The search for April Jones in numbers

Psychologist: 'Mark Bridger could take years to reveal what happened to April Jones'

Search for April Jones' remains will continue if Mark Bridger gives up information

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
film
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?