Murder of April Jones

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"April Jones" redirects here. For the American actress, see April Parker Jones.
Murder of April Jones
April Jones.jpg
Date 1 October 2012 (2012-10-01)
Location Machynlleth, Powys, Wales
Burial Body missing
Charges
  • Child abduction
  • Murder
  • Attempting to pervert the course of justice
  • Unlawful concealment and disposal of a body
Verdict Guilty on the counts of:
Murder
Child abduction
Perverting the course of justice
Convictions Life imprisonment (Whole life tariff)

April Jones, (4 April 2007[1]c. 1 October 2012) from Machynlleth, Powys, Wales, disappeared on 1 October 2012, aged five, after being sighted willingly getting into a vehicle near her home. Her disappearance generated a large amount of press coverage, both nationally and internationally.[2][3][4] A 46-year-old local man, Mark Bridger, was subsequently arrested and charged with Jones's abduction and murder.[5]

On 30 May 2013, Bridger was found guilty of April's abduction and murder in addition to perverting the course of justice. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. The trial judge ordered that he never be released from prison.[6]

Search[edit]

On 3 October 2012, April Jones's mother made an appeal for information about her daughter.[7] On 4 October, Prime Minister David Cameron appealed for anybody with information as to Jones's whereabouts to contact police. He said that his "heart goes out" to her family, particularly as Jones suffered from cerebral palsy—the same condition as his son, Ivan, who died in 2009. He commented that "clearly having this happen to you, and the fact that she suffers from cerebral palsy, something I know a little about from my own children, only makes this worse. My appeal would be to everyone. If you know anything, if you saw anything, heard anything, have any ideas you can bring forward, talk to the police."[8]

In the days following her disappearance, a large search operation for the girl was mounted around the Machynlleth area involving police and search and rescue teams using specialist equipment,[9] as well as hundreds of volunteers.[10][11] On 12 December, police stated that the search for Jones would continue into 2013.[12] On 27 March 2013, police revealed that they were to call off the search for Jones at the end of April of that year.[13][14] On 22 April 2013, police confirmed that the search had officially ended. The police also commented saying that "a reactive team of specialist officers are available to respond to any new information that is received."[15] The search for April Jones was the largest missing person search in UK police history.[16]

Murder inquiry[edit]

On 5 October 2012, police officially made the case into a murder inquiry.[17] The Sky News presenter Kay Burley was accused of insensitivity after she broke the news of the probable death of Jones live on air to volunteers who had been assisting in the search for her. The interviewees were unaware the case had become a murder inquiry.[18][19][20]

On 6 October, local man Mark Bridger was charged with child abduction, murder and attempting to pervert the course of justice.[21] He appeared before magistrates at Aberystwyth on 8 October, where he was additionally charged with the unlawful concealment and disposal of a body, and remanded in custody pending an appearance at Caernarfon Crown Court on 10 October.[22] He was held on remand at HMP Manchester,[23] and appeared in court via videolink for the hearing.

On 14 January 2013 at Mold Crown Court, Bridger pleaded not guilty to the charge of murdering Jones, but accepted that he was "probably responsible" for her death.[24] The trial was to begin on 25 February at Mold Crown Court, but it was adjourned until 29 April on request of Bridger's defence team in order to make further inquiries.[25]

Mark Bridger[edit]

Mark Leonard Bridger was born at the War Memorial Hospital in Carshalton, London, on 6 November 1965, the middle of three children of Pamela and policeman Graham Bridger.[26][27] He has an older sister and younger brother.[28] He grew up in a semi-detached house in Wallington, London.[28] He attended John Ruskin High School in Croydon, leaving with seven CSEs.[28]

When he was 19, he was convicted of firearms offences and theft.[28] He moved to Wales in the 1980s.[29] In 1991, he was convicted of criminal damage, affray and driving without insurance.[27][28] In 1992, he was convicted of driving whilst disqualified and without insurance.[28] In 2004, he was convicted of battery and threatening behaviour; in 2007 he was convicted of assault.[26]

Bridger's work history is varied, having worked as an abattoir worker, hotel porter, firefighter, lifeguard, mechanic, and welder.[27] He has six children by four women,[29] including two by his wife, whom he married in 1990.[26]

Trial[edit]

The trial of Mark Bridger began on 29 April 2013 before judge Mr. Justice Griffith-Williams.[30]

On 24 May, the BBC reported that the defence case had ended, the case would continue on Tuesday 28 May, after the bank holiday, and the judge said he expected to sum up the case on Wednesday. On 29 May the judge continued to sum up the case, then he ordered the jury to retire to consider its verdicts.[31]

On 30 May 2013, Mark Bridger was found guilty of abduction, murder and perverting the course of justice.[32] Later that day, he was sentenced to life imprisonment with a whole-life tariff, having been called a "pathological liar" and "a paedophile" by the judge. This means that he is unlikely ever to be released from prison.[33]

After the guilty verdict, it was revealed that Bridger had confessed to the prison chaplain at Strangeways that he had disposed of April's body in the fast-flowing River Dyfi, which extends past Bridger's house, leading to the sea via Aberdyfi. Dyfed-Powys Police have said they doubt Bridger's claims and believe he scattered April's remains across the countryside near his house.[34]

In July 2013, while serving his sentence, Bridger was attacked by a fellow prisoner with an improvised shank, resulting in him being admitted to hospital with facial and throat injuries, for which he received stitches.[35][36] In December 2013, Bridger launched an appeal against his whole-life sentence, but in January 2014 dropped the appeal.[37][38]

Facebook cases[edit]

On 8 October 2012, a 19-year-old male from Chorley in Lancashire was sentenced to 12 weeks' imprisonment in a Young Offender Institution for posting comments about Jones and Madeleine McCann on his Facebook page, after pleading guilty to sending a grossly offensive message, an offence under section 127 (1)a of the Communications Act 2003.[39][40] In a separate case, an 18-year-old male from Worcester who posted his opinions about the case on his Facebook page was given a six-week suspended prison sentence on 7 November, and ordered to do 200 hours' community service.[41]

Funeral[edit]

Although her body was never found, on 26 September 2013 the funeral service for April Jones was held in Machynlleth.[42]

Changes to web search engines[edit]

In November 2013, partly after campaigning by April Jones's parents, the search engines Google and Bing modified their systems to block results from searches aimed at producing child abuse images.[43][44]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "April Jones: Family releases balloons on missing girl's sixth birthday". BBC News. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "Vittnen såg man bära sopsäck ner till flod". Aftonbladet (in Swedish) (Aftonbladet Hierta AB). 5 October 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  3. ^ "Mum makes plea for missing April". Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). 4 October 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "April Jones: Final hours to quiz April suspect". BBC News. 6 October 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  5. ^ "April Jones: Hunt timeline for missing Machynlleth girl". BBC News. 6 October 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  6. ^ Malone, Sam (30 May 2013). "Mark Bridger sentenced for life for murder of April Jones". Wales Online. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  7. ^ Steven Morris (3 October 2012). "April Jones's mother makes emotional appeal for daughter's return". guardian.co.uk (Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  8. ^ Mason, Rowena (4 October 2012). "April Jones disappearance is 'every family's nightmare', says David Cameron". The Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  9. ^ Steven Morris and agencies (6 October 2012). "April Jones search resumes after bad weather forces overnight halt". guardian.co.uk (Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  10. ^ "April Jones abduction: Call for volunteers to help new search". BBC News. 4 October 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  11. ^ Stephen Wright, Paul Bentley, Nick Fagge and Liz Hull (4 October 2012). "Desperate hunt for April continues". Mail Online (Associated Newspapers). Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  12. ^ Crabtree, David (12 December 2012). "April Jones: Search To Continue Into New Year". Sky News (British Sky Broadcasting). Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  13. ^ "Missing April Jones:Police to end search". Sky News. Retrieved 31 March. 
  14. ^ "April Jones: Police to complete search next month". BBC News. Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  15. ^ "Missing April Jones search ends, almost 8 months on". BBC News. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  16. ^ BBC News - April Jones: Largest police search for missing April. Bbc.co.uk (2013-05-30). Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  17. ^ Steven Morris (5 October 2012). "April Jones search becomes a murder inquiry". guardian.co.uk (Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  18. ^ "Sky News defends Kay Burley over April Jones live interview having been inundated with angry complaints". The Drum. Carnyx Group Limit. 5 October 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  19. ^ "Sky News presenter, Kay Burley, accused of being 'insensitive bordering on cruel' in interview with April Jones volunteers". The Independent. 5 October 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  20. ^ "April Jones: was Kay Burley right to say family 'don't expect to find her alive'?". guardian.co.uk. 5 October 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  21. ^ "April Jones: Man charged with missing girl's murder". BBC News. 6 October 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  22. ^ "April Jones: Emotional Suspect In Court". Sky News (British Sky Broadcasting). 8 October 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  23. ^ "April Jones: Mark Bridger sobs in court during murder hearing". The Telegraph. 8 October 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  24. ^ "April's Death: Bridger 'Probably Responsible'". Sky News. 14 January 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  25. ^ "April Jones: Mark Bridger murder trial adjourned'". BBC News. 25 February 2013. Retrieved 25 February 2013. 
  26. ^ a b c How Mark Bridger shunned his middle class upbringing for a life of lies and violence. Telegraph. Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  27. ^ a b c BBC News - April Jones's killer Mark Bridger a 'liar and fantasist'. Bbc.co.uk (2013-05-30). Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  28. ^ a b c d e f Mark Bridger: From troubled teenage dad to porn-obsessed child killer | UK | News | Daily Express. Express.co.uk. Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  29. ^ a b ITV News, 30 May 2013
  30. ^ Mark Bridger murder trial: court told April Jones was 'happy' to get into car | UK news. The Guardian. Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  31. ^ BBC News - April Jones case: Evidence in trial of Mark Bridger ends. Bbc.co.uk (2013-05-24). Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  32. ^ BBC News - April Jones trial: Mark Bridger guilty of murder. Bbc.co.uk (2013-05-30). Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  33. ^ BBC News - April Jones trial: Mark Bridger guilty of murder. Bbc.co.uk (2013-05-30). Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  34. ^ April Jones murder: Mark Bridger told prison chaplain he dumped body in river. Wales Online (2013-05-30). Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  35. ^ April Jones: Mark Bridger Attacked In Prison. News.sky.com (2013-07-09). Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  36. ^ BBC News - April Jones's killer Mark Bridger attacked in jail. Bbc.co.uk (2013-07-09). Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
  37. ^ "April Jones killer Mark Bridger to appeal against sentence". BBC News. 16 December 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  38. ^ "April Jones killer Mark Bridger drops sentence appeal". BBC News. 13 January 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  39. ^ "April Jones murder: teenager jailed over offensive Facebook posts". guardian.co.uk. 8 October 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  40. ^ Fiveash, Kelly (8 October 2012). "Lancashire man jailed over April Jones Facebook posts". The Register. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  41. ^ "April Jones Facebook posts: Sam Busby given suspended sentence". BBC. 7 November 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  42. ^ "April Jones: Hundreds attend Machynlleth funeral". BBC News. 26 September 2013. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  43. ^ "BBC News - April Jones's grandmother welcomes move to block abuse images". Bbc.co.uk. 2013-11-18. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  44. ^ "April’s family welcome abuse images block". Newsnorthwales.co.uk. 2013-07-15. Retrieved 2013-11-24.