April defendant "probably responsible"

A former lifeguard has pleaded not guilty to the abduction and murder of April Jones but has told the court he accepts he was "probably responsible'' for five year old's death.

47 year old Mark Bridger from Ceinws, near Machynlleth, will stand trial later this year accused of murdering April, who went missing in Machynlleth last year. 

April was last seen playing out on her bike on the Bryn-y-Gog estate, where she lived, on the evening of October 1. Bridger was arrested the following day, but the search for April's body goes on. 

Bridger entered not guilty pleas to abduction, murder and perverting the course of justice at Mold Crown Court. 

But Brendan Kelly, defending, told the court his client's defence involves him "conceding that he probably killed the child''. 

April's parents Coral and Paul Jones were in court today as Bridger entered his not guilty pleas. The case sparked an outpouring of support for April's family, with hundreds of people joining the search. 

April's parents were led into the court before Bridger was brought up. Mrs Jones, wearing a black cardigan, pink T-shirt and black trousers, and Mr Jones, wearing a salmon pink shirt, sat to the side of the dock, just 10ft away from Bridger. 

The defendant, with short cropped hair and goatee beard, was then brought in and confirmed his name to the court. Both parents stared at Bridger as the charges were read to him. 

At one point during the hearing, Mrs Jones wiped tears from her eyes with a tissue. 

Mr Justice Griffith-Williams refused an application from the defence to move the trial out of the north Wales area. Mr Kelly said the defendant was of the belief that his right to a fair trial "would be better served elsewhere''. But the judge said Mold Crown Court was an appropriate venue for the trial and that he was satisfied the jury system was "more than sufficient'' to address any concerns about prejudice to the defendant. 

The trial, which is estimated would take around four weeks, was listed to begin on February 25.

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