A seven-year-old Massachusetts girl survived being strangled and thrown off a bridge after being kidnapped from her grandparent's home by a family friend, a court has heard.

Joshua Hubert denies taking the girl - who has not been named - from a late-night barbecue at a home in Worcester, in the New England state, and subjecting her to almost two hours of terror early on Sunday (27 August) morning.

Joshua Hubert (partially behind door) is accused of throwing a seven-year-old girl off a bridge after kidnapping her
Joshua Hubert (partially obscured behind door) is accused of throwing a seven-year-old girl off a bridge after kidnapping her

Prosecutor Cheryl Riddle told Worcester District Court that family friend Hubert was at a cookout at the house and left about 2:30 am.

But police added the girl was taken by Hubert while she slept on a chair at the house "without the permission of her parents".

The 35-year-old then bundled her into his car and drove off into the night. At one point he stopped the car and choked the girl before driving her across a bridge over Lake Quinsigamond and throwing into the water, police say.

But despite her young age the girl survived the fall, and swam out of the lake.

She told police that she found the first house with lights on and knocked on the door. That home was in Shrewbury, across the lake from Worcester.

Riddle added: "At approximately 4:30am, about two hours [after she was taken], a woman from Shrewsbury was awoken by knocks at her door and found the seven-year-old victim standing at her door in pajamas soaking wet."

The little girl then told police she had been kidnapped by Hubert, strangled, and then thrown into Quinsigamond.

She had bruises on her body as well as marks on her neck and other injuries, the prosecutor said. Police did not say why the defendant took the girl.

Hubert is now being held without bail until another hearing is scheduled later in the week. His lawyer Richard Welsh, said the defendant will plead not guilty.