A TEN-year-old girl feared she would be sent to prison if she told anyone she was being raped, a court was told.

The youngster’s mother found a note hidden in a backpack in the girl’s bedroom revealing she had been repeatedly abused by John Cole.

Cole, 33, of Oak Way, Crawley is on trial accused of raping the girl at least six separate times, as well as sexually assaulting her and forcing her to engage in sex acts over a 20-month period.

Rowan Jenkins, prosecuting, showed a jury at Hove Crown Court the note the girl had written saying she had sex with Cole on numerous occasions and showing a graphic sketch of what had happened.

He said the girl had said: “I told him I didn’t like it. He said ‘that’s OK, we can try again another time.

“I told him over and over again I didn’t want it. He told me that I should not tell anyone about it because we would get told off, he would get put in prison, so would I.”

Addressing the jury Mr Jenkins added: “For a child that age that’s a very powerful threat. That shut her up, isolated her from her mother. The defendant says it is entirely made up by the child and her mother. You need to look very carefully at that and look carefully and critically at all the evidence.”

Cole denies all the charges. The trial continues.