The trial of the former lifeguard accused of murdering schoolgirl April Jones is due to get under way.

Mark Bridger, 47, was arrested the day after five-year-old April vanished while playing on her bike near her home in Machynlleth, mid-Wales, last October.

Wearing a short-sleeved pale blue shirt, a blue striped tie and grey trousers, he appeared in the dock at Mold Crown Court flanked by two prison officers.

Trial judge Mr Justice Griffith Williams told 50 potential jurors: "I don't know whether you have been reading the papers or listening to the News but if you have, you have probably worked out by now that I am about to start the trial which arises out of the alleged murder of April Jones in Machynlleth last October.

"The defendant's name is Mark Bridger, he is obviously sitting in the dock. It may be as well that you have a look at him just to make sure he is not somebody who you know or who you think you know."

Hundreds joined the search for April, who suffered from cerebral palsy, following her disappearance.

Her body has never been found despite a major operation led by Dyfed Powys Police.

Bridger, of Ceinws, is charged with abducting and murdering April, and of unlawfully disposing of and concealing her body with intent to pervert the course of justice.

He has pleaded not guilty to the allegations.

Jury selection has been taking place, with the first day expected to be occupied with legal matters and the trial expected to open later this week.

There will be nearly 60 witnesses called throughout the trial, which is expected to last until the middle of June.


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