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Rapist 'nearly killed girl'

The 14-year-old girl who was raped and beaten during her morning paper round narrowly escaped death in the attack, police said last night.

Detective Chief Inspector Max Currah said: 'I don't think it was that far from being a murder inquiry.'

The girl, who was grabbed by a masked man in a dark alley in Lanchester, Co Durham, on Saturday, was stamped on as she lay on the ground and suffered head injuries.