MARK Bridger, who is accused of murdering missing five-year-old April Jones, appeared in court via videolink from prison in Manchester.
The man accused of abducting and murdering five-year-old April Jones appeared in a crown court via video link today.
Mark Bridger confirmed his name and that he could hear the proceedings at Caernarfon Crown Court in North Wales.
The 46-year-old is accused of abducting and murdering April, and of unlawfully disposing of and concealing her body with intent to pervert the course of justice.
Bearded and wearing thin-rimmed glasses and a black jumper, he sat in front of a grey curtain in the Manchester prison where he is being detained.
During the hearing, which lasted around 20 minutes, he answered the clerk's questions by responding: "Yes ma'am."
The court heard that the prosecution had been given notice of Bridger's "likely defence" which had been taken in interviews.
Mr Justice Griffith-Williams also said any decision about where any future trial would be held would be made after consultation with April’s family.
The court heard that some of the witnesses in the case are as young as seven.
Elwen Evans QC, prosecuting, said forensic and other "extensive investigations" were continuing "apace" and the judge agreed that "matters may develop".
But Mr Justice Griffith-Williams said it was his intention to try the case "at the earliest possible date".
Bridger, a former lifeguard from Mount Pleasant farmhouse in the village of Ceinws, near Machynlleth in Mid Wales, leaned forward at one point, apparently struggling to hear.
But when asked by the judge if he understood what was happening, he responded: "Yes sir."
He was remanded in custody and no application for bail was made.
The case was adjourned until January 11 while investigations continue.
April was last seen near her home on the Bryn-y-Gog estate in Machynlleth last Monday night.
Bridger was arrested the following day, but police have admitted they may never find the girl’s body.
The news of her disappearance saw hundreds of concerned members of the public and well-wishers scramble to help the authorities in the search.
Welsh Secretary David Jones hailed the "tremendous community spirit" of the people of Machynlleth for their tireless efforts to help find her.
But after the initial hunt failed to turn up clues police asked members of the public to stand down as experts from across the emergency services and the RNLI focused on the hunt.
A series of high-profile personalities joined the appeal for information about April's whereabouts including Prime Minister David Cameron, who described her disappearance as "every family's nightmare".
As a sign of solidarity and hope, Machynlleth residents responded en masse to April's mother Coral's request to wear pink ribbons.
But hopes that April would be returned to her family faded with the news that Dyfed Powys Police had launched a murder inquiry.
On Monday night, a week after she vanished, residents of the market town where she lived released Chinese lanterns in her memory.
Her parents Coral 40, and husband Paul, 44, released their own Chinese lantern from their garden in Machynlleth in a private remembrance.
By Rosa Silverman Telegraph.co.uk