The man accused of murdering April Jones (5) told police he would like to apologise to her parents but could not help them locate their missing child because he was unable to remember what he had done with her body, a court has heard.
During lengthy questioning by detectives following his arrest the day after April's disappearance last October, Mark Bridger, a self-confessed alcoholic, described how he "accidentally" crushed the little girl to death in his Land Rover and claimed that he made repeated attempts to resuscitate her.
Mold Crown Court in north Wales heard that he told police: "There was a little girl under the wheels of the car. I need to say sorry to her family. I can't believe I didn't just call an ambulance or the police."
He is alleged to have added: "I wouldn't have dumped her. She is a human being."
The former abattoir worker (47) was arrested as hundreds of people searched in vain for the child, who had disappeared whilst playing outside her home in Machynlleth, mid-Wales.
Officers who went inside his house looking for April described the cottage as "uncomfortably hot" and smelling strongly of detergent, air freshener and cleaning fluids, the prosecution said.
Clothes had recently been cleaned and Mr Bridger – who denies abduction, murder and concealing the child's body – had shaved his head and trimmed his beard.
On the second day of opening the case for the prosecution, Elwen Evans QC said the defendant was "forensically aware" and "manipulative".
April's bloodstains were found on the underneath of a carpet, on floor tiles and on the washing machine. The accused had earlier been seen carrying a black plastic bag and acting suspiciously in a lay-by.
Some DNA which might have come from April was found inside the front crotch area of the tracksuit trousers which Mr Bridger was wearing when he was arrested, it was claimed.
The trial continues. (© Independent News Service)