A TEENAGER has admitted brutally attacking a ten-year-old girl whose disappearance from her home led to a major police search operation.

The 16-year-old, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, appeared at Teesside Crown Court yesterday flanked by three care workers.

He admitted a charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, but denied a charge of kidnap – which the Crown accepted.

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His ten-year-old victim suffered a fractured skull in the attack in Stockton on April 7.

Her parents had reported her missing from her home and she was eventually found by a member of the public on an isolated path near the River Tees.

Police were then forced to appeal for calm after tensions ran high on her estate.

She was treated at a paediatric unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle.

Katherine Dunn, prosecuting, said CCTV images showed the girl clearly being led by her attacker to the river area.

She said that the girl suffered seven blows to the back of her head, four to her face and one to her neck.

The prosecutor indicated that the Crown did not intend to take the kidnap matter to trial because of the ages of the defendant, the victim and other witnesses. “If we delay this matter further, it will only bring further anguish to the families involved,” she said.

The Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Peter Fox, called it a “dreadful attack”

and said comprehensive assessments should be carried out on the victim and defendant before sentencing.

Judge Fox said the case would be mentioned at court again on July 6 with a view to sentence being passed before the end of that month.

No application for bail was made by the teenager’s barrister, Duncan McReddie.

The 16-year-old was remanded into local authority care and will be placed into a secure unit in the meantime.