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
Convicted Mark Bridger[1]
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[2]c. 1 October 2012) from Machynlleth, Powys, Wales, aged five, disappeared on 1 October 2012, after being sighted willingly getting into a vehicle near her home. Her disappearance generated a large amount of national and international press coverage.[3][4][5] A 46-year-old local man, Mark Bridger, was subsequently arrested and charged with Jones's abduction and murder.[6]

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, with the trial judge ordering that he never be released from prison.[7]

Search[edit]

On 3 October 2012, April Jones's mother made an appeal for information about her daughter.[8] The following day Prime Minister David Cameron also issued an appeal to the public, commenting, "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."[9] Cameron said that his "heart goes out" to her family, particularly as Jones suffered from cerebral palsy—the same condition that his son, Ivan, succumbed to in 2009.

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 specialised equipment,[10] as well as hundreds of volunteers.[11][12] On 12 December, police stated that the search for Jones would continue into 2013.[13] On 27 March 2013, police revealed that they would call off the search at the end of April,[14][15] and on 22 April, police confirmed that the search had officially ended. The police stated that "a reactive team of specialist officers are available to respond to any new information that is received."[16] This was the largest missing person search in UK police history.[17]

Murder inquiry[edit]

On 5 October 2012, police officially designated the case a murder inquiry.[18] Sky News presenter Kay Burley was accused of insensitivity after breaking the news of Jones' probable death live on-air to volunteers who had been searching for her. The interviewees were unaware the case had changed from a search for a missing person into a murder inquiry.[19][20][21]

On 6 October, local man Mark Bridger was charged with child abduction, murder, and attempting to pervert the course of justice.[1] He appeared before magistrates at Aberystwyth on 8 October, where he was additionally charged with the unlawful concealment and disposal of a body. He was remanded into custody and held at HMP Manchester pending an appearance at Caernarfon Crown Court, which occurred on 10 October via videolink.[22][23]

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 at the 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]

Bridger had a history of legal infractions. When he was 19, he was convicted of firearms offences and theft.[28] He moved to Wales in the 1980s,[29] and there he was convicted of criminal damage, affray, and driving without insurance in 1991.[27][28] The next year, he was convicted again, for driving whilst disqualified and without insurance.[28] In 2004, he was convicted of battery and threatening behaviour; in 2007 he would receive his fifth conviction, this time for 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, and the judge would begin to sum up the case on Tuesday 28 May, after the bank holiday. On 29 May the judge concluded his summation, and then ordered the jury to retire to consider its verdicts.[31] On 30 May 2013, 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.[33]

After the verdict, it was revealed that Bridger had confessed to the Strangeways' prison chaplain that he had disposed of April's body in the fast-flowing River Dovey, which flows past Bridger's house before terminating in the sea near 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 facial and throat injuries, for which he received stitches.[35][36] In December 2013, Bridger launched an appeal against his whole-life sentence, but dropped the appeal in January 2014.[37][38]

Facebook cases[edit]

On 8 October 2012, a 19-year-old male from Chorley in Lancashire pled guilty to sending a grossly offensive message and for posting comments about Jones and Madeleine McCann on his Facebook page, an offence under section 127 (1)a of the Communications Act 2003. He was sentenced to 12 weeks' imprisonment in a Young Offender Institution.[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 of community service.[41]

Aftermath[edit]

Funeral[edit]

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

Changes to web search engines[edit]

In November 2013, partly after campaigning by 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]

House in Machynlleth[edit]

On 4 August 2014, it was announced that the cottage in Ceinws, Powys, where Jones is believed to have been killed, had been purchased by the Welsh government for £149,000.[45] The cottage was demolished in November 2014.[46] April's family watched the house being demolished.[47]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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