The man accused of the abduction and murder of April Jones has appeared in court and pleaded not guilty, though his barrister says he is “probably responsible” for her death.
Mark Bridger, 47, sat in the dock at Mold Crown Court flanked by two security guards as details of the charges were read out. He clearly replied “not guilty” to the charges as April Jones’ parents stared into the glass-fronted dock.
The judge made an order under the Contempt of Court Act that none of the evidence mentioned should be publicly reported.
But he added that Bridger’s barrister’s statement that Bridger was “probably responsible” for the death of April, could be reported.
Earlier the murmurings from people gathering in Court One were silenced as Mr and Mrs Jones walked in with police family liaison officers.
Mrs Jones shook her head as Bridger was led back into custody by court officers after the hearing.
As well as facing charges of abducting and murdering April, Bridger is also accused of unlawfully disposing of and concealing her body with intent to pervert the course of justice.
April’s disappearance sparked an outpouring of public support, with hundreds of people joining the search in the early days.
She was last seen playing on her bike on Machynlleth’s Bryn-y-Gog estate, in north Wales, where she lived, on October 1 last year.
On the day she went missing Mr and Mrs Jones had allowed April to play out late as a treat after she received a glowing report from school.
Former lifeguard Bridger was arrested the following day.
Officers resumed efforts to find the five-year-old’s body on January 7 after a two-week break.
In December Superintendent Ian John, who is heading the search, said it will continue on the same scale and with equal numbers into the new year.
Just before Christmas her parents made an emotional plea on Facebook, which said: “We just want you home for Christmas.”
The message continued: “11 weeks now my baby April been missing. It’s so hard you not here running around asking how long before father Christmas is coming + you trying to open your present + try and help us wrap
presents for family + friends.. please come home.”
Bridger, who appeared in court wearing jeans and a navy sweater, will face trial next month.