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Bridger 'probably killed' April
Former lifeguard Mark Bridger is "probably responsible" for the death of five-year-old April Jones but denies her abduction and murder, a court has been told.
Bridger, of Mount Pleasant farmhouse in the village of Ceinws, near Machynlleth, will stand trial later this year accused of murdering April, who went missing in mid-Wales last year.
April was last seen playing out on her bike on Machynlleth's 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".
Mr Justice Griffith-Williams said: "That matter can be reported. You have indicated that the defendant's case is that he was probably responsible for the death of April." The judge ordered that no other evidence in the case can be reported.
April's parents Coral and Paul Jones were in court as Bridger, 46, 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. Bridger stood, his arms behind his back, and looked forward as he entered not guilty pleas to abducting and murdering April and a further charge of perverting the course of public justice. At one point Bridger, wearing a navy blue jumper with a pair of spectacles tucked into his collar, appeared to be making an effort to compose himself as he entered his pleas and looked up towards the ceiling as he entered his final not guilty plea. 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 it is estimated would take around four weeks, was listed to begin on February 25.