April happy as she climbed into vehicle, playmate says

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A jury has heard the seven-year-old friend who was playing with April Jones on the evening she was abducted describe how the youngster was “happy” as she climbed into the vehicle that drove her away.

A DVD of police interviews with girl, who cannot be identified, was played to the jury in Mark Bridger’s trial at Mold Crown Court yesterday.

Five-year-old April vanished while playing with the girl near their homes in Machynlleth, Powys, Mid Wales, on October 1 last year.

The prosecution says April was abducted by Bridger, 47, who drove her off in his Land Rover Discovery and murdered her.

The film of the child witness’s statement to police, recorded the day after April disappeared, was played to the jury as the girl watched on a video-link from Aberystwyth.

In the interview, she told police they had been playing on the Bryn-Y-Gog estate when she saw April “by a Land Rover van”.

She added: “The man didn’t take her in the van – she got into the van, having a happy face she had and she wasn’t upset.”

Former slaughterhouse worker Bridger, of Ceinws, claims he accidentally killed April, running her over with his Land Rover, and cannot remember what he did with the body.

He denies abduction, murder and intending to pervert the course of justice by disposing of, concealing or destroying April’s body.

The interviewing police officer asked the girl to describe the vehicle in greater detail and she said it had been parked near garages on the estate and next to a BT van.

The officer asked which van April had got into, and the girl replied, “the grey Land Rover”.

“I saw the man get out of the van,” she said. “He was waiting outside the van for someone, I don’t know who. I don’t think it would be April he would be waiting for.

“I don’t know why April would want to get into the van because her mum and dad told her not to get into vans like that.

“She wasn’t crying, she was happy.”

In cross-examination after her video statement was shown, Brendan Kelly QC, defending Bridger, questioned the girl on pictures of Land Rovers shown to her before her police interview by her mother.

“When you drew the picture of the Land Rover in the police interview, were you drawing what your mum had shown you or were you drawing what you had seen?”

“I was drawing what I had seen,” the witness replied.

The trial continues.