THE killer of five-year-old April Jones, Mark Bridger has launched appeal against his conviction for murder.
Bridger, who is serving a life sentence for abducting and murdering the schoolgirl from Machynlleth, has given his legal team instructions to appeal.
After six months in his cell Bridger, who became one of Britain’s most hated men, has told his legal team to apply to the Court of Appeal.
His move will cause fresh heartache for April’s devastated family at Machynlleth, mid-Wales, where a judge said Bridger was “on the prowl” for a young girl.
Her parents Paul and Coral Jones bravely sat through the whole trial and told how they could never come to terms with how their darling daughter disappeared after they had allowed her to play out on her pink bike outside their home.
Sentencing Bridger back in May, the Judge, Mr Justice Griffith Williams, told him he would “never be released” for the callous abduction and murder.
Bridger used to live in the Wrexham area with his former wife.
Following Bridger’s conviction, Ieuan Williams spoke to the Leader about how Mark Bridger was married to his daughter Julie and lived in Glyn Ceiriog, near Chirk, where they had an abusive relationship.
Without his knowledge, said Mr Williams, the pair got married in 1987 within three months of them getting to know one another in Machynlleth, Powys. Julie, an innocent young woman, had fallen for his charm.
After getting married, Bridger and Julie moved to live for a short time in Bristol.
As a present, Julie’s mother bought her a Fiat Panda but Bridger sold the car for a quick £800 spending money.
“That’s what he was like – a twisted evil sod,” said Mr Williams.
Julie and Bridger did not last long in Bristol before fleeing to Glyn Ceiriog.
“I didn’t have a clue where they were at this point, not until her granny rang me one night to tell me she had thrown Bridger out because she’d found three huge catering knives under his bed,” said Mr Williams.
“She was worried – so was I. He was always carrying knives and he never went anywhere without a knife strapped to the bottom of his left leg.
“It was about six inches long and would cause serious damage. He would tell people he was in the SAS. I think he actually thought he was – but he was a complete fantasist, a real oddball.”
Mr Williams explained how Bridger used to beat up his daughter when they lived in the village near Chirk. “It was awful,” he said.
“They ended up living in an old shack in Glyn Ceiriog. Then, out of the blue one winter night, I got a call saying ‘we’ve your daughter, she’s been badly beaten up’.
“The police got hold of Bridger while a mate and I went to fetch Julie back to Machynlleth.”
Mr Williams added: “He tried to ruin my family but he couldn’t. In the end we were too strong and now have a lot to be thankful for.”
A decision will have to be made whether he should be given leave to appeal or whether the conviction should stand because of the strength of the evidence against him.
It is unclear if Bridger will also appeal against his whole life sentence.
Powerfully-built Bridger had for more than 20 years lived a lie after creating a fantasy life that he was a fighting mercenary and international survival expert.
After attending a PTA evening at the local primary school, he parked up his left hand drive Landrover Discovery on the Bryn y Gog Estate where April lived.
It was then he snatched little April, whose body has never been found despite one of the largest searches in police history.
Her best friend, a little seven year old girl – described as an impressive little witness who stood up to cross-examination – told how April was taken by a man and placed in the vehicle.
She was a crucial witness who told how April went into the vehicle with “a happy, smiling face” – and not as Bridger claimed after he had accidently ran her over her.
Precisely what happened to April is not known.
From the huge quantity of depraved child porn found on his laptop, prosecutor Elwen Evans QC said it was clearly a sexually motivated attack.
CCTV evidence later tracked the Landrover as it drove back to his rented home at Mount Pleasant, Ceinws, where April’s DNA was found in a concentration of her blood in the carpet in front of the wood burner, in the hall and in the bathroom. Her DNA was found on his clothing.
Chillingly, tiny bone fragments which experts said came from a child’s skull, were in the ashes.
To the naked eye all seemed in order – but her blood was found on the underside of the carpet, there was a strong smell of cleaning materials in the cottage the following morning and police officers who entered the next day said it was uncomfortably hot.
Bridger claimed he had accidently run her over, placed her in his vehicle with the intention of getting help, then because of drink and in panic, he could remember nothing about what had then happened.
He stuck to his story despite detailed forensic examination of his vehicle showed no evidence of any collision and his claims to have driven back and forth in Machynlleth in a panic were disproved by CCTV evidence.
But in evidence to the court, he claimed for the first time that he had a recollection of holding April in his arms in his living room and placing her on the carpet where her blood had been found.
While skull fragments were found, what he did with the rest of her body is unknown.
He was accused of playing “a cruel game” by claiming he couldn’t remember what he did her.
The prosecution said there was compelling and overwhelming evidence that he had abducted her with a sexual motive, murdered her and disposed of her body.
He had carried out internet searches on Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in the Soham murder case, and had viewed and saved images of dead children.
On the day she disappeared, he had viewed images including a ‘cartoon’ image of a rape of a restrained and distressed child.
Leading search engine companies Google and Microsoft have since agreed measures to make it harder to find child abuse images online, a move welcomed by April’s family and Prime Minister David Cameron.