Mark Bridger sent desperate messages to a former girlfriend after she broke up with him by text hours before he allegedly abducted and killed April Jones, his murder trial heard yesterday.
The ex-slaughterman, 47, told Vicky Fenner, 25: ‘You were my life. My everything.’ Then he begged: ‘Nothing left at all worth fighting for?’
After hearing she had told other people they had split up, he wrote: ‘I couldn’t have meant **** all to you’ and logged on to his computer to look at child pornography and message other women in the area on Facebook, asking them to meet up with him for ‘no strings’ encounters.
Miss Fenner, who lives yards from where April was snatched on the Bryn-y-Gog estate in Machynlleth, mid-Wales, received another message from Bridger the next day saying he ‘just heard the news’ that April had gone missing.
But it was all a pretence, Miss Evans suggested, adding: ‘Lies and tears come easily to Mark Bridger.’
Miss Evans showed the jury pictures of Bridger’s car. She said: ‘There is no evidence of a collision, no evidence of blood, torn fabric, or indication April Jones had been hit or run over.’
Police traced him through a description of his distinctive vehicle. One of April’s young friends said she saw her getting into his left-hand-drive Land Rover Discovery.
The court heard that three witnesses saw Bridger carrying a black bin bag in a field near his home the morning after April’s disappearance.
Miss Evans turned to the jury and said: ‘We ask you, what was Mark Bridger doing at that location? What was in that black bin bag?’
The court heard that the land around that area was excavated but no trace of April was found.
Bridger later claimed he was in the field because he had to stop to ‘go for a wee’. But Miss Evans said Bridger made up this story because he ‘needed to explain away a potentially suspicious sighting’.
The court heard a statement which Bridger made to police after his arrest, in which he tried to give an ‘excuse’ if they were to find April’s DNA on his penis.
Miss Evans said Bridger told officers that ‘it might be there because he had been for a wee while carrying her’.
She said: ‘This is a man, we say, who is forensically aware. He knew how important it was from his point of view to try and get rid of any forensic scientific evidence linking him to April.’
Bridger denies charges of murder, abduction and perverting the course of justice.
The trial will continue today when the jury visits Machynlleth.
Schoolgirls aged 8 and 10 'were asked to sleepover by suspect'
WHAT MURDER SUSPECT TOLD POLICE WHEN HE WAS ARRESTED
It has also emerged today Bridger had allegedly approached two young children in the street and invited one girl, ten, to his house for a 'sleepover' just two hours before he abducted April Jones.
Miss Evans told the jury Bridger had driven into town with his computer to attend a parents' evening with his daughter’s teacher.
He was then seen talking to a 14-year-old girl and her sister at the school before leaving and approaching two local girls, aged eight and ten, who were riding on bikes.
'He wound the window down and there was a discussion during which the defendant invited one of the girls to a sleepover with his daughter,' Miss Evans told the jury.
'She declined and he drove off.'
The jury was also shown the last images of April, in which she is seen running and skipping in the corridors of the local leisure centre, where she had a swimming lesson.
Wearing a white T-shirt and black trousers, she races ahead of her older half-sister and the seven-year-old friend who would later witness her abduction.
The video was taken after she had spent the day at school. Her parents Coral and Paul, who watched on from the public gallery, were at a parents’ evening at the local primary school, which Bridger was also due to attend.
‘That of course is that imagery we have of April,’ said Miss Elwen Evans QC.
April could also be seen on the CCTV from the leisure centre being swung playfully by her older half-sister before they left for home.
On the second day of opening the case for the prosecution, Elwen Evans QC took the jury through images of young girls contained in folders on Bridger's laptop.
The folders, given names including X0 and X5, contained photographs of local young girls which he downloaded from Facebook, as well as some obscene content.
On the afternoon before April disappeared, the defendant viewed a pornographic cartoon of a young girl gagged and restrained as she was being raped, Miss Evans said.
She also showed the jury a number of internet searches the prosecution says were conducted on Bridger's laptop.
They included 'British girl murdered in France', 'ten year old girls naked', and 'pictures of ten year old girls'.
Internet 'research' on serial killers and child murders
Bridger had researched serial killer Ted Bundy on the FBI’s most wanted website, the court heard.
‘I never understood it, the relation he had with killing girls, having sex with corpses and the like.’
He had also read about the James Bulger murder and was ‘volunteering’ information he knew about other murdered children, including Caroline Dickinson, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.
He denied sexually assaulting April and said he had ‘not tasted blood’ and not seen blood on his hands.
‘I don’t believe I felt any liquid blood from April,’ he said.
Before being arrested on suspicion of murder, he did, however, tell officers: 'I can promise you she's not alive.'
He said it was a 'pure stupid accident', that he was an alcoholic and had been drinking Vodka while driving.
Smell of cleaning at Bridger's home 'noted by police'
The police said that when police went into Bridger's home, half an hour before he was arrested, they did so searching for April.
'When they went in there they stated that the house was uncomfortably hot, that there was a strong smell of detergent, and a smell of cleaning products, air freshener and washed clothes,' Miss Evans said.
She said 'police registered these findings' but did not realise their significance at that time.
Miss Evans showed the jury pictures showing forensic analysis of Bridger's clothing, car and home.
Pointing to the car photographs, she said: 'There is no evidence of a road collision, no evidence of blood here, torn fabric, or indication April Jones had been hit or run over.
'Nothing on the body work, the side, the wheels to suggest impact with a body or a bicycle.'
She added: 'Evidence points to April not coming to any harm in Bryn y Gog or in the car.'
Inside Bridger's house, however, were found blood stains and fragments of bone, Miss Evans added.
Showing photographs of the living room, the barrister told the jury blood stains with a 'one in a billion' match to April's DNA profile were found near the wood burning stove, on the carpet and on the sofa.
April’s blood was found in his living room, hallway, the bathroom door, washing machine door and the shower curtain, the court heard. The DNA match to April was one billion to one.
Witnesses saw Bridger parking on the Bryn y Gog estate at about 7.15pm, minutes before she was taken.
Five minutes later his Land Rover was spotted on CCTV driving past a petrol station in the direction of his home.
Witnesses later saw Bridger’s vehicle being reversed into the drive of his house, named Mount Pleasant.
At about 11pm, he then received a text message from a friend, which read: ‘Goodnight hun, hope you’re OK. Sweet dreams.’
At just before midnight, he responded: ‘Goodnight. Yes, benefits is sorted. I hope.’
Despite a huge search by police and public, her body has never been found.
Yesterday the jury at Mold Crown Court was shown a series of images recovered from the former lifeguard’s computer, including those of Cambridgeshire ten-year-olds Holly and Jessica, murdered by paedophile school caretaker Ian Huntley in 2002.
Also shown were photographs of other child murder victims and images he had collected of local young girls, among them files specifically dedicated to April’s half-sisters, aged 13 and 16.
The jury heard that pictures of April, who had cerebral palsy, were accessed just eight days before she was abducted.
In addition, there was an animation which was watched hours before April went missing. It portrayed the rape of a ‘physically restrained and clearly distressed young girl’, prosecuting counsel Miss Elwen Evans QC told the jury.
April's best friend, who cannot be named for legal reasons, saw her walk over to where Bridger was standing by his vehicle, Miss Evans said. ‘It looked as if he was waiting for someone. She saw April go over to the defendant and start talking. She saw April get into the car.'
The murder trial is expected to last seven week and was adjourned until tomorrow.