Friday, 31 May 2013


ABOVE: April Jones' mum Coral makes her statement outside court yesterday
Words alone cannot describe how we are feeling, or how we manage to function on a daily basis
Aprils' mum, Coral Jones
31st May 2013

By Jerry Lawton

APRIL Jones’s mum last night begged Mark Bridger to tell her what he did with her daughter’s body, as he was sentenced to die in jail for her murder.

Fighting back tears, Coral Jones told how she would be forever racked with guilt for letting the five-year-old play out for 20 minutes the day she was snatched by child sex-crazed Bridger.

She told of her heartache at never seeing her “little fighter”, who had battled premature birth, a hole in the heart and cerebral palsy, “smile again” – or walk down the aisle.

And, as unmoved Bridger was hauled off, Coral, 43, of Machynlleth, mid-Wales, revealed she and her 41-year-old husband Paul’s agony that they “still do not know where she is”.

“How will we ever get over it?” she asked. “Words alone cannot describe how we are feeling, or how we manage to function on a daily basis.

“April ruled our lives. I still cannot go into her bedroom to sort out her clothes because the pain of her not being there is indescribable.

“She fought to come into the world, she fought to stay in this world and he has taken her, not only from us but from everyone who loved her.

“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 Paul will never walk her down the aisle.

“We are relieved Mark Bridger has been found guilty of the murder of our beautiful daughter.

“However, we still do not know where she is and this will always be a very painful thing for us to deal with.

“I would never ever want any other family to go through what we are going through, and will go through for the rest of our lives.”

It took only four hours and six minutes for the jury to find Bridger, 47, guilty of April’s murder and abduction and perverting justice by disposing of her body, following a month-long trial at Mold Crown Court.

He responded with a nod as the foreman of the jury of nine women and three men turned to look him in the eyes as she returned each verdict.

Bridger became the 48th prisoner in the UK serving a full-life term.

Mr Justice Griffith Williams said: “There is no doubt in my mind that you are a paedophile.

“You set out to find a little girl to abuse. You were on the prowl for a young girl.

“Innocently and trustingly, April got into your 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.

“You burnt at least a part of her in the wood burner.

“The grief of April’s parents cannot be overstated. Without the knowledge of what happened to April, her parents will probably never come to terms with their grievous loss.”

A mob of 20 shouted “Bastard!” as Bridger was led from the court to a waiting prison van in a jail-issue green and yellow boilersuit before being driving to Strangeways in Manchester with an armed police escort.

He was last night on suicide watch after learning he would never be freed.

Coral told how they let April play out at 7pm with a pal because she had thrown a tantrum.

“I told her I didn’t want her to be long,’’ she said. “This was the last time I saw her.

“As April’s mother, I will live with the guilt of letting her go out to play on the estate that night for the rest of my life.’’ Coral sent April’s nine-year-old brother out to call her in at 7.20pm. He returned hysterical after being told she had been snatched.

“I was frantically trying to find her,” Coral said. “I searched around the estate everywhere I could think of. I even looked in bins.”

Paul added: “I felt so helpless. I didn’t know what to do. I just paced for about 24 hours.”

But the one man who could end their agony by telling them where April was refused to say. Bridger was known to the couple. Coral played darts in his local and he once helped start her car.

Every day for seven months at least 135 officers joined mountain rescue teams, divers, and coastguards to scour miles of rugged Welsh terrain for April.

Insp Gareth Thomas, who co-ordinated the hunt, admitted his heartbreak that the only traces of the child found were 18 shards of bone recovered from Bridger’s cottage.

He said: “I feel on a professional basis that I have got this hanging over me. We know that she is out there somewhere. We haven’t given up hope.”