A Stevenage schoolgirl was groomed online by an alleged child rapist who would pick her up in his car after lessons and sexually abuse her in the back seat, a court heard yesterday.

A prosecutor at Luton Crown Court said Nicholas Day, from Letchworth, raped the girl in a Stevenage car park when she was just 12 years old – and years later also raped a seven-year-old girl.

Prosecutor Rebecca Austin said the 32-year-old defendant’s response to the Stevenage allegations was to claim mistaken identity, and that he said the alleged later offences – involving a girl in Hitchin – “simply didn’t happen”.

“The crown’s case is that he has a sexual interest in young girls,” said Miss Austin.

The prosecutor said the offences began in 2009, when she said Nicholas Day contacted the Stevenage girl on the social media site Myspace.

She said he falsely told the 11-year-old he was 17, when he was in fact twice her age – and that they regularly messaged each other until meeting in person when she was 12 and he was 23.

Miss Austin told the court he drove to Stevenage to meet her when she came out of school, having been “grooming the 12-year-old girl with the clear intention to meet her for sex”.

During that meeting, the prosecutor said, he put his hand on the girl’s leg – but stopped when she said ‘no’. But as their meetings continued, she said, that changed.

Miss Austin said that after picking the girl up from school one day, Mr Day drove her to a car park where they got into the back seat.

She said the girl put up resistance when he told her to perform oral sex on him – but relented when the defendant told her he “loved her”.

The prosecutor said this became a regular occurrence, and that when the girl tried to protest he would claim they were in a relationship and threaten to “find someone else”.

Miss Austin said he had carried out more sexual acts on the girl, including having full sex with her two months before her 13th birthday – something the girl claims then happened frequently.

The prosecutor said the abuse ended by the time the girl was 14. Miss Austin said that one afternoon the defendant turned up to meet the girl in his car as usual, but she told him: “No, you are a paedophile. I don’t want to go with you.”

Miss Austin said that after contact between them ceased, the girl felt both “sad and relieved” and “could carry on being a normal teenager”.

The prosecutor said the girl only went to the police when she was 19, after which police arrested Nicholas Day – who told officers he didn’t know the girl and that they had the wrong man.

The court then heard that in March this year, another young girl separately came forward and told her family that Mr Day had sexually assaulted and raped her when she was seven and eight years old. He denies this.

Nicholas Day, of Wilbury Hills Road in Letchworth, pleads not guilty to eight offences of rape of a child under 13. He denies two further charges of rape, the attempted rape of a child under 13, three charges of assault of a child by penetration, meeting a child following sexual grooming, two offences of sexual activity with a child, and sexual assault of a child under 13 by penetration.

The case continues.