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A schoolgirl sent messages to her family via Facebook pleading for help while she was being raped in woods near her home.

The 14-year-old used her cellphone to write “help” and “raping me” on her sister’s profile page on the site, a court was told.

But although the messages alerted her mother and sister, who eventually discovered her collapsed by the roadside, they were too late to stop her ordeal.

On Wednesday a judge criticised the police and Crown Prosecution Service after it emerged they had missed three chances to catch her attacker, David Edgerton, 22, in the months leading up to the rape.

Judge Merfyn Hughes QC said the girl may have been spared had they apprehended or prosecuted Edgerton, of Connah’s Quay, north Wales, for an earlier rape, an attempted rape and an attack on a girl of ten.

Mold Crown Court was told that Edgerton, a heroin addict, was prowling Leeswood, north Wales, looking for his next victim on the afternoon of August 22, 2012.

He approached a 13-year-old girl sitting by a community centre and asked her for directions to a pub.

She refused to accompany him and he left when a male friend of the girl’s arrived to meet her.

But less than two hours later Edgerton saw the 14-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, at a chip shop and asked her to show him where the pub was.

John Philpotts, prosecuting, told the court: ‘As they walked in the village he held her tightly, grabbed her hair and threatened her not to raise the alarm.

“He dragged her into Blast Woods where she was raped.

“Despite her ordeal, she was able to send messages which said ‘help’ and ‘raping me’ from her cellphone on to the Facebook site of her sister. She got messages to her family to try to explain where she was.”

By this time, the girl’s mother and sister were looking for her because she had not come home. She later told police she could hear them calling her while she was being attacked.

Eventually she escaped and was found by her mother in a terrible state, Mr Philpotts added.

The court was told that in June 2009 Edgerton tried to rape a 20-year-old school friend after breaking into her home.

In December 2011, he attacked a girl of ten but was stopped when a member of the public intervened.

Then, in August last year, less than a fortnight before he raped the 14-year-old, he raped a woman who invited him to her flat.

Edgerton denied one count of rape, one attempted rape and attempted abduction but was convicted after a three-day trial. He admitted assault with intent to commit a sex offence and the abduction and rape of the 14-year-old.

Judge Hughes told Edgerton: “You must realise that the sentence you will receive will be a very long one.” - Daily Mail