Mother of April Jones tells Ryan Tubridy she’s ‘starting to feel like a mum again’ in emotionally charged interview
Coral and Paul Jones, the parents of tragic April, spoke honestly and eloquently about their heartbreak to radio host Ryan Tubridy this morning.
Their five-year-old daughter April was abducted and murdered by Mark Bridger in their hometown in Wales in October 2012.
“When he killed April, he squashed what I did with the other kids, but I’m coming back slowly and starting to feel like a mum again,” Coral told the RTE 2FM host.
“I’m still struggling. We have counselling. Sometimes I’ve a good day, a good week. Other times I have bad days,” she added.
“I keep myself very busy. I'm always doing something. I dont like to sit down and contemplate. If I have time to myself I struggle.. these last few months I’ve seen a vast improvement in Coral,” her husband Paul said.
Recalling the day their lives irrevocably changed, Paul said it was just a normal day like any other.
“We were doing some Christmas shopping down the road from us. April had done really well in her school report - she’d gone swimming with her friends, she came back and we let her stay out for an extra 15 minutes because she’d done so.”
When it was time for dinner, the couple sent their son Harley out to get her, and that’s when their nightmare began.
“When he came back with her bike he was screaming saying she’d been taken.
“He didn’t know who it was. April’s friend was still there on the curb saying someones taken her.
“When she was taken, we knew from the start it wasn't good, she goes nowhere without her bike.
While Paul admits that he was hopeful she would be returned, his faith began to wane.
“You can’t give up, but come 10.30 that night I had a bizarre feeling she wasn't going to come back,” he lamented.
“You don’t think things like this can happen to you. Where we live is a really quiet place...for something like this to happen is completely abnormal.”
The police search for April was the largest of its kind ever carried out in Britain.
It wasn’t long before all roads led to Mark Bridger, a neighbour in their village of Machynlleth, Powys.
“I’ve known him,” Paul told Tubridy. “At one point I was dating a sister and he was dating the other sister. I do believe we went fishing at one point, but that’s about as far as our paths had crossed.
“He came over very charming, very nice, a little reckless. He did talk about his army career but I couldn't form much of an opinion on him.”
Bridger, a father-of-six, had a long history of brushes with the law, and several criminal convictions to his name.
“He lived in a land of his own, he believed his own lies...the lie he had been living for some 20 years,” Coral said.
“He told the police he ran April over by accident, he had picked her body up and put her in the car to bring her to hospital ..but his story changed.
“His story changed so frequently - there was rumours in every direction. Rumours are devastating.
“The forensic team told us they found an amount of blood on the floor, in the bathroom, by the washing machine. They found bone and skull fragments in the fireplace.
“They also found an arsenal of knives because he thought he was some kind of rambo, special forces...there was a rather large puddle of blood a couple of feet from the fireplace, that’s where he committed his act.
An emotional and heart broken Coral continued, “When the police told us about the amount of blood. I knew she must have had one hell of a ...what he done to her must have been really brutal.. she was only little..five years old. and the amount of blood that was on the floor ..you knew, something had happened there in that spot.”
The couple were tasked with telling their two children Harley and Jasmine what had happened to their little sister.
“I had to tell Harley, when I told him that night, he just squealed...a blood piercing scream - something you won’t forget for your whole life.”
“Jasmine just wouldn't speak about him, she was really worked up, a mess. They’re amazing, incredible little characters.
“We live from day to day, sometimes hour to hour. If I have a bad day, Paul picks it up. The kids sometimes turn around and start looking after us,” Coral stated.
“We’re very proud of both the kids, Jasmine has got her head on her shoulders. She’s strong willed and very intelligent.”
Although Coral and Paul are writing a book about their traumatic story - the family’s heartbreak is one that can never be conveyed in words.
“I feel guilty because she’s not with us. she should be here, having a laugh, smiling, running around.
“It suddenly catches you and you have that guilty feeling for a moment.
“I have counselling and all that,” a tearful Coral told Tubridy.
“In court, we sat opposite him in his glass cage and I made sure I just stared at him so he knew we were there.
“I wanted him to see the hatred and anger I had for him taking away our little girl.
“He was in a world of his own, fantasy land. At one point I don’t think he even knew we were there. He never acknowledged anyone in the court.”
“He had pictures of children on his computer, sexual images of children, some 370 of them. Some of them were cartoons, some were actual children.
“We were told he was looking at the images before he took April’s life. We want these images gone from everywhere, these should not be uploaded or downloaded - we want the Internet to at least tell families they're at least trying to stop it.
“Allowing all these photos, they’re feeding these people and their habits - it’s so wrong.
Speaking about their decision to watch as Bridge’s cottage was demolished by the Welsh government last November, Paul and Coral said it was a massive relief for their family.
“We went to the cottage, I’m not happy I went, but I had to go and put everything in the right place - I had to put it in order in my head so I knew. The stuff we saw… the puddle of blood. You could see knife marks in the floor. To have that place destroyed was a great release.”
“It was almost a party atmosphere - you felt lighter and a lot better. It’s helped a lot having that house destroyed.”