Killer Bridger drops sentence plea

Hampshire Chronicle: Mark Bridger abducted and murdered five-year-old April Jones Mark Bridger abducted and murdered five-year-old April Jones

The man convicted of the murder of five-year-old April Jones has abandoned his application for permission to appeal against his whole-life tariff.

The move by Mark Bridger was confirmed today by the Judicial Office.

Bridger kidnapped the child before sexually abusing her, murdering her and disposing of her body.

The former slaughterhouse worker was given the whole-life sentence by trial judge Mr Justice Griffith Williams after he was convicted by a jury at Mold Crown Court.

It was originally thought that Bridger's appeal bid would be heard by leading judges at the Court of Appeal in London on January 24.

Bridger, a father of six, snatched April near her home in Machynlleth, Mid Wales, on October 1 last year. Her body has never been found.

Sentencing Bridger in May, Mr Justice Griffith Williams said: ''There is no doubt in my mind that you are a paedophile, who has for some time harboured sexual and morbid fantasies about young girls.''

He said Bridger abducted April for a ''sexual purpose'' after he had been jilted by his girlfriend and then murdered the schoolgirl and disposed of her body to ''hide the evidence of your sexual abuse of her''.

Police believe Bridger dismembered April before dumping her body parts at various locations in the hills, rivers and forests surrounding his home in Ceinws, Mid Wales, after traces of her blood were found all over his rented cottage.

The judge said: ''How you disposed of her body must remain a mystery. It will serve no purpose for me to speculate as to what happened but all the indications are that you burnt at least a part of her in the wood burner.''

Fewer than 50 other criminals in the UK have been handed sentences which mean they must spend the rest of their lives behind bars.

Others serving whole-life terms include Moors Murderer Ian Brady, who tortured and murdered children along with accomplice Myra Hindley.

On January 24 at the Court of Appeal, Lee Newell, who murdered child killer Subhan Anwar in prison, and murderer and rapist Matthew Thomas are seeking to challenge their whole-life terms.

The test cases will be heard by a panel of five judges - Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, Sir Brian Leveson, Lady Justice Hallett, Lord Justice Treacy and Mr Justice Burnett.

In addition, Attorney General Dominic Grieve has referred the case of Ian McLoughlin, who was given a life sentence with a tariff of 40 years for murdering a man on day release.

In that case the five judges will be asked to rule on whether the 40 years can be regarded as "unduly lenient" and should be increased.

The central legal issue at the hearing before the judges will be the nature of the sentencing scheme for whole-life orders and the compatibility of such an order with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Government has said that whole-life tariffs are "wholly justified in the most heinous cases".

Such terms were deemed a breach of human rights following a successful appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) by murderers Jeremy Bamber, Douglas Vinter and Peter Moore.

Last year the trio won a ruling that their whole-life sentences amount to ''inhuman and degrading treatment''.

Whole-lifers should be entitled to a review of their sentence 25 years into their term at the very latest, the Grand Chamber of the Strasbourg-based court said.

The ruling by 17 judges from across Europe sparked further outrage among critics of the court - despite reassurances that the decision did not amount to grounds for imminent release.

Triple killer McLoughlin, 55, was jailed for life at the Old Bailey last October for stabbing a man on his first day-release from prison after 21 years in custody.

When sentencing McLoughlin, the trial judge imposed a 40-year tariff, saying he could not pass a whole-life term because of the European court ruling.

McLoughlin - who had killed twice before - stabbed Graham Buck, 66, as he came to the aid of a neighbour in Little Gaddesden, Hertfordshire, last July.

Newell, 44, is challenging a whole-life sentence imposed last September at Warwick Crown Court.

He was convicted alongside Gary Smith for the February 2013 murder of convicted child killer Anwar in his cell at Long Lartin Prison, Worcestershire. Newell was already serving a life sentence for a previous murder committed in 1988.

Convicted rapist Thomas was told "life means life" after murdering a newlywed bride and then kidnapping and raping a second woman.

Thomas, then 43, from Luton, pleaded guilty to the murder of Colette Magee in Luton in November 2013. He also admitted two counts of rape, one of indecent assault and one count of kidnap of the second woman.

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