A girl of 14 who’d vanished from her bed was miles away on the Welsh coast with a paedophile in a case a judge on Friday described as the “nightmare of any parent.”

Mark Wilkinson, 29, of Russell Road, Rhyl, had been in touch on Facebook and the teenager travelled by bus and train to meet him at the North Wales town. Judge Niclas Parry at Mold crown court said the case underlined the dangers to children of social media.

Wilkinson was jailed for three-and-a-half years and a restraining order made. He must register as a sex offender and a sexual harm prevention order was made.

He admitted inciting the girl to send naked snaps to him, meeting her following sexual grooming, sexual touching, and child porn charges. He’d also breached a sexual harm prevention order by concealing a mobile phone.

The girl’s tearful mother told the judge: "That man took away her innocence. I’m petrified he will do this again to another young girl.”

Simon Killeen, defending, said it would be Wilkinson’s first time in prison and there were more restrictions because of Covid.

After the hearing investigating officer PC Chelsea Symonds-Roberts of the North Wales Police Online Investigation Team said: “We welcome the sentence and this will give some closure to those affected by Wilkinson’s predatory and despicable behaviour.

“Child sexual abuse is extremely damaging and has a devastating effect on children. It also has far reaching implications for the families concerned, who are left to pick up the pieces.”