A 55-YEAR-OLD Burnley man who exchanged sexually explicit texts with a schoolgirl is behind bars.
Michael Heffernan, of Florence Avenue, appeared in Burnley Crown Court after admitting two counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, between last January and March.
He was jailed for 16 months and told by Judge Beverly Lunt his appearance as an upstanding member of the Stoop Estate community was a “total sham”.
Miss Jennifer Blewitt (prosecuting) said Heffernan had known the victim, who was 12 at the time, for several years. He began texting her mum and had then moved on to texting the daughter, sending her hundreds of messages.
She revealed the victim had said contact started through text messaging and this became sexually explicit. She knew it was not right and although she said she was joking she did not think he was.
“He was arrested on March 21st after the texts came to the attention of the girl’s school who informed the police,” said Miss Blewitt. “He said he thought he was helping her. He said he never intended his actions to be sexual but did admit he overstepped the mark.”
Miss Louise Kitchen (defending) said Heffernan, who had been married for 38 years, knew he had done wrong but would not benefit from a custodial sentence.
“He knows he should have ceased contact with her when it turned to a sexual nature. He has found it difficult to come to terms with what he has done but accepts he must be sentenced by the court.
“This is more akin to grooming and until his plea he was a man a of positive good character. He is deeply ashamed and sorry for what he has done. I would ask that serious consideration is given to a suspended sentence so he can address his problems.”
Judge Beverly Lunt disagreed though and said: “You have demonstrated a worrying lack of empathy and acceptance. If you were a decent and responsible man you would have brought this to a stop and told her mother. This shows your perverted thinking.”
He was also made subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order and had already been ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register.
There’s more on this story in Friday’s Express.