Dangerous Burnley paedophile jailed for eight years

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Former youth worker Michael Heffernan Former youth worker Michael Heffernan

A DANGEROUS paedophile, who repeatedly molested a girl just months after he was released from jail for sending her sister sexually explicit texts, has been sent to prison for eight-and-a-half years.

Former youth worker Michael Heffernan, 57, was subject to an indefinite sexual offences prevention order at the time of his latest perverted behaviour.

He was banned from contacting, or associating with youngsters, and from having children at his house, unless supervised by an approved adult.

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Heffernan, who was on crutches in the dock, was last week found guilty, by a jury, of one charge of assault by penetration, and four specimen counts of sexual assault, after a trial.

Heffernan, of Fir Street, Burnley, had denied the allegations, but admitted breaching the SOPO several times.

He was also put on five years’ extended licence, and received another sexual offences prevention order, under which he is not allowed to contact the victims, and is on the sex offenders’ register indefinitely.

The mother of the girls, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was earlier spared jail after admitting child neglect.

Heffernan was sent to prison for 16 months in August 2011, after he sent the schoolgirl sexually explicit messages.

He had been convicted of two allegations of inciting a girl to engage in sexual activity.

Police said then that Heffernan was considered to be a pillar of the community within the Stoops Estate area of Burnley, and was heavily involved with the local council, and youth groups, over the years.

The sentencing hearing, on Monday, was told how Heffernan groomed, and then sexually attacked, the vulnerable girl over two to three months.

Hugh Barton, defending, said Heffernan had had no convictions until the text message offences, and had had a ‘dramatic fall from grace’.

Judge Lunt told Heffernan there was a signifcant risk of him causing serious harm at least to the two girls, if not to other girls like them.

She said: “I am absolutely sure that you are a dangerous offen-der.”

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