A CAGE fighter who arranged to meet with a 13-year-old girl for sex told her to wear her school uniform for their encounter.

Burnley Crown Court heard how Danial Heuer sent the girl lewd messages and pictures of himself performing a sex act before arranging to meet with her.

However Heuer had not been talking to a real 13-year-old, but a police officer posing as a child.

The 37-year-old was arrested after he arranged to meet the decoy at Tesco supermarket in Bury.

But Heuer walked free from court after Judge Sara Dodd raised concerns about the amount of help that would be available to him in prison.

Judge Dodd said: “I am satisfied that if I sent you to custody for what would be less than 10 months, the risk that you pose going forward will not have been addressed. I am also satisfied that the maximum period of suspension of two years is insufficient. Therefore I am going to impose a three-year community order.

“I want to make it clear to anybody who is thinking that I should have just sent you away immediately – I must bear in mind the reality that in custody at the moment there will be absolutely no intervention to address your offending.

“You pose real risk to girls and the worrying feature is you have a daughter of a similar age. I only hope I am right in my assessment that your arrest has brought you to your senses.”

Prosecuting, Adam Lodge described how the defendant reached out to the decoy online on New Year's Eve on an account registered with the user name ‘Danny Boom Boom’.

Shortly into the conversation the defendant told the girl he was a 37-year-old man from Burnley, to which she responded she was a 13-year-old from Bury.

Mr Lodge said: “The conversation became sexualised, and the defendant told the child he wanted to meet. Other messages of a sexual nature suggested that the defendant had a sexual interest in the girl's feet.

“The conversation continued – the defendant was talking graphically in sexual terms. There were discussions about meeting up and going for a drive. On this occasion also the defendant sent naked images of himself.”

Heuer told the ‘girl’ that he was a retired cage fighter and sent her photographs of his time competing.

On January 8 after one failed attempt to catch Heuer through a different sting, he turned up to a pre-arranged meet her at Tesco in Bury.

Mr Lodge said: “At around 10am the defendant was spotted by officers entering the shop. They located him in the toilet.

"As they went to arrest him he was initially resistant. Officers were concerned for their safety in light of the defendant’s previous profession and were forced to use significant force to restrain him.

“Having been restrained he was searched. Police found a sachet of stimulating rub and a snap bag containing traces of cocaine.”

No admissions were made by the defendant in police interview.

In mitigation it was heard Heuer, of Craven Street, Colne, was full of remorse for his offending and had sought help to address his behaviour.

A sexual harm prevention order was imposed on him for 10 years and he was made subject to notification requirements for the same period.

He will take part in a sex offender's programme and he will undertake rehabilitation. He was also fined a total of £500.

Judge Dodd said: “Despite having a daughter, you were not deterred form your contact. Messages became increasingly more sexualised and included messages about penetrative sexual activity taking place between you.

“A meeting was arranged, you didn’t attend, but you didn’t desist. A further meeting was arranged in which you asked her to wear school uniform. You travelled to Bury during a significant national lockdown.

“You were prepared for that meeting with a lubricant and Viagra. In my judgement you clearly intended for sexual activity to take place between you and what you thought was a 13-year-old girl.”