Mark Bridger found guilty of the abduction and murder of April Jones

Former abattoir worker abducted and killed five-year old from Machynlleth, mid-Wales, before disposing of her body         

A former abattoir worker and lifeguard has been convicted of the abduction and murder of five-year-old April Jones.

Mark Bridger seized April as she played on her bicycle near her home in Machynlleth, mid-Wales, and murdered her before concealing, disposing of or destroying her body, which has never been found despite one of the most intensive police searches in British history.

The jury at Mold crown court found Bridger guilty of three charges – murder, abduction and unlawfully disposing of and concealing April's body – after four hours and six minutes of deliberation.

The 47-year-old swallowed deeply and appeared to hold back tears before he was taken down to the cells. He will be sentenced on Thursday afternoon.

As the verdict was returned there was no audible reaction from the public gallery from where April's parents, Paul and Coral, were watching. As the verdict was returned there was no audible reaction from the public gallery from where April's parents, Paul and Coral, were watching.

For the first time it can be revealed that Bridger, who is the son of a retired City of London police officer, told a priest while he was in prison awaiting trial that he had "flung" April's body into a river.

Detectives, however, have treated the apparent confession with caution and tend to think that after sexually assaulting April, he dismembered her body at his cottage, Mount Pleasant, in the village of Ceinws and disposed of the pieces in various remote places.

It can also be revealed that the fragments of bone found in Bridger's fireplace and in his bath plughole – confirmed to be April's remains – will be returned to her family so they can bury them if they wish. The family has made it clear to police that they would like to see Bridger's cottage demolished.

The discovery of explicit images of child sex abuse on Bridger's laptop is also bound to prompt a fresh debate on possible links between the viewing of such images and sex killings.

During the trial it emerged that Bridger had viewed a cartoon image of a bound girl being sexually abused by an adult just hours before April was abducted.

It can also be revealed that a tape found in Bridger's video player when police raided his home was paused at the point of a rape and murder scene from the slasher film The Last House on the Left. He had recorded the same scene – but nothing more of the film – twice on one videotape.

The discovery opens the possibility that Bridger viewed the film just before or even as he was abusing or murdering April.

Bridger, who has six children by four women, faces spending the rest of his life behind bars. Prison sources say there is already a "tag" on his head and he will spend the first part of his imprisonment on suicide watch and the rest being protected from other inmates.

April disappeared on the evening of 1 October from the Bryn-Y-Gog estate. Police believe she was taken into Mount Pleasant alive and may have been sexually assaulted there.

Detective Superintendent Andy John, the senior investigating officer, said: "I think the body has been dismembered and various parts have been placed in different areas. Possibly those remains would have been small and damaged. That's why we've had such difficulty locating them."

While held on remand at HMP Manchester, formerly known as Strangeways, Bridger told the prison chaplain, Father Barry O'Sullivan, during a counselling session that he threw April's body in the river. But while detectives accept that parts of April's body may have ended up there, they do not set much store by the apparent confession. They point out that during police interviews Bridger provided many misleading remarks suggesting where her body might be. Detectives believe he liked to play what in court was described as a "cruel game" by not revealing the location of April's remains.

John said he thought the abduction of a child was "premeditated", though he did not believe April was a specific target. He said images found on Bridger's laptop, including pictures of sadistic child sexual abuse, suggested the killer was building up to the crime.

"For me the computer evidence points towards an individual who is evil, manipulative and has premeditated this," said John. "The unhealthy interest he has in indecent images of children for me is a clear indicator that this individual was going to commit something as horrific as he did."

Though he had convictions for violence and deception dating back to when he was a teenager, Bridger had no convictions for sexual offences against children or for having indecent images. Since his arrest no other allegations have been made against Bridger. Nor is there any evidence that he has abused any of his children.

There are striking parallels, however, between the case of Bridger and that of Stuart Hazell, who earlier this month admitted murdering 12-year-old Tia Sharp in south London.

Both men had no previous convictions for abuse but carried out sexually motivated murders after viewing images of child sexual exploitation.

Jim Gamble, the founding head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, said there was a theory that men such as Bridger and Hazell became caught up in a "spiral of abuse".

"They begin to want more, they want access not to still images but to video images, and then they want to get more real experience. And through the internet they realise that they are not alone," Gamble said.

While Bridger begins his sentence, April's family will have to try to begin the next chapter of their lives, which could at last involve a funeral.

The police and prosecution have been careful to preserve as much of the fragments of bone found at Bridger's house as they can so the remains could be returned to April's family. "From a moral issue we've had to ensure we've maintained something we could possibly allow the family to have," said John.

Detective Sergeant Hayley Heard, one of the two family liaison officers who have been at the side of Paul and Coral Jones since April vanished, said: "Their lives have changed forever. I don't know if they will ever be able to move on or get closure. But I think because they have got other children they have to carry on."

Judge says Bridger is pathological liar as he gives him whole-life tariff for abduction and                    murder  of five-year-old girl

Mark Bridger has been jailed for the rest of his life for the abduction and murder of April Jones, the five-year-old girl who disappeared last year while playing near her home in Machynlleth, mid-Wales.

The trial judge, Mr Justice Griffith Williams, imposed a life sentence with a whole-life tariff on the 47-year-old, describing him as "a pathological and glib liar".

Williams said: "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."

It did not seem April was specifically targeted, the judge said, telling Bridger he was seemingly "on the prowl for a young girl". The five-year-old knew Bridger, Williams told him, and would have got into his Land Rover "smiling and happy".

"What followed is known only to you but this much is certain – you abducted her for a sexual purpose and then murdered her and disposed of her body to hide the evidence of your sexual abuse of her, which probably occurred on the way from the estate to your home because there is some 60 minutes of your time which cannot be accounted for.

"I cannot infer from the evidence where you murdered her but if she was alive when you took her to the house, she died there.

"How you disposed of her body must remain a mystery. It will serve no purpose for me to speculate as to what happened but all the indications are that you burned at least a part of her in the wood burner."

April's family had to endure the "spectacle of your hypocritical sympathy for their loss and of your tears", the judge told Bridger, saying any tears were motivated purely by self-pity.

Bridger nodded as the sentence was passed but gave little other reaction to the comments.

Speaking outside the court, April's mother, Coral, said the family was relieved Bridger had been convicted: "However, 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 and we are so moved by the overwhelming support we have had from so many people all over the world."

Standing next to April's father, Paul, she thanked the police and said the family had been particularly supported by the people of Machynlleth. "Without their support we do not know how we would have got through the last seven months since April was taken from us."

victim impact statement from Coral Jones, read just before the sentence was passed on Thursday, explained the family's devastation. It said: "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 added: "I still cannot go into her bedroom to sort out her clothes, because the pain of her not being there is indescribable."

She said she would live forever with "the guilt of letting her go out to play on the estate that night". The statement ended: "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 [her father] Paul will never walk her down the aisle. How will we ever get over it?"

Earlier in the day the jury at Mold crown court found Bridger guilty of murder, abduction and unlawfully disposing of and concealing April's body, after just over four hours of deliberation. The former abattoir worker seized April as she played on her bicycle and murdered her before concealing, disposing of or destroying her body, which has never been found despite one of the most intensive police searches in British history.

Bridger, who has six children by four women, is set to spend his entire term in prison being protected from other inmates.

Though he had convictions for violence and deception dating back to when he was a teenager, Bridger had no convictions for sexual offences against children or for having indecent images. Since his arrest no other allegations have been made against Bridger. Nor is there any evidence that he has abused any of his children.

The discovery of explicit images of child sex abuse on Bridger's laptop is also bound to prompt a fresh debate on possible links between the viewing of such images and sex killings.

During the trial it emerged that Bridger had viewed a cartoon image of a bound girl being sexually abused by an adult just hours before April was abducted.

A prisoner serving a life sentence has admitted attacking the child killer Mark Bridger in one of Britain's most secure jails.

Juvinai Ferreira, 22, pleaded guilty to the offence when he appeared at Leeds crown court via videolink.

Ferreira attacked the 47-year-old in Wakefield prison just months after Bridger was sentenced to life in jail for abducting and murdering five-year-old April Jones in Machynlleth, Wales, last year.

No details of the attack were given in court on Wednesday, and Ferreira will be sentenced on 2 October.

According to reports at the time of the attack, which happened on 7 July, Bridger needed hospital treatment to a face wound after he was slashed with a makeshift knife.

He was returned to Wakefield after his injury was stitched.

On screen in court on Wednesday, Ferreira, who is a convicted murderer, looked bored and propped his head up with his hand for most of the proceedings as he sat at a desk in prison clothes.

At one point in the 20-minute hearing he asked one of his guards: "I thought this was going to be quick?"

After Judge Christopher Batty told him the case was going to be adjourned, Ferreira said to him: "Can you just not sentence me? I can't keep coming back.

"Just give me anything and move on."

Batty told him he needed a pre-sentence report to assess his level of dangerousness and decide whether a second life term was appropriate.

Ferreira was found guilty at Norwich crown court in 2009 of murdering Elaine Walpole in Dereham, Norfolk, in April 2008.

At the time police said Ferreira – who is originally from the Gambia – moved to Dereham in 2007 with a relative after escaping civil war in Africa. He befriended 47-year-old Walpole, who lived alone, after they met at a shop and she bought him cigarettes.

Prosecutors at the time suggested that Ferreira was "sex-crazed".

Postmortem tests showed that Walpole, a former hotel worker who had three children, had been stabbed three times and bitten.

Detectives and forensic experts spent nearly a year carrying out checks to show Ferreira was an adult as he said he was 16. Once it was proved he was an adult, Ferreira was given a life sentence and told he must serve at least 22 years before being considered for parole.

Bridger, a father of six, snatched April near her home in Machynlleth. He was given a whole-life tariff by a judge in May at Mold crown court. The five-year-old's body has never been found.

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