Bridger weeps as murder charge is read out in court

Crowds shouted 'scum' and kicked the van taking Bridger back to prison in Manchester

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The man accused of murdering five-year-old April Jones wept as he appeared in court yesterday for his first public appearance since being arrested a week earlier.

Mark Bridger, 46, has been charged with kidnapping, murder and the unlawful disposal and concealment of her body with intent to pervert the course of justice.

Mr Bridger, a former lifeguard, cried as he confirmed his name, date of birth and address during the four-minute hearing. The defendant, who was unshaven and wearing a blue jumper, stared at the floor inside the glass-surrounded dock. He confirmed he understood the charges against him.

Magistrate Betty Griffiths remanded Mr Bridger into custody until tomorrow, when he is due to appear at a court in Caernarfon. The van carrying him was greeted by angry crowds at Aberystwyth magistrates' court.

A group of people waiting outside the court shouted "scum" and kicked the van taking Bridger back to prison in Manchester.

It is now more than a week since April was last seen, near her home on the Bryn-y-Gog estate in the Mid-Wales town of Machynlleth. She had been allowed to play outside late as a reward for a glowing school report, but a witness saw her get into a Land Rover Discovery. Mr Bridger was arrested the next day and charged on Saturday with her murder.

Police were continuing the search for the girl's body yesterday as her mother, Coral Jones, 40, issued a new appeal on Facebook for help to find her daughter. "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," the message said.

Mountain-rescue teams were stood down over the weekend as the police increased searches in and around the town. Night-time searches have also been suspended.Superintendent Ian John, who is leading the search for April and was in court yesterday, said: "We are upping our numbers to 18 teams, which will [comprise] more than 100 officers."