A MAN who had sex with a 13-year-old girl after meeting her on the internet has been spared jail.

David Coulter, 22, has instead been ordered to go on a sex offenders’ programme.

Leeds Crown Court heard how Coulter groomed the youngster over a period of months before having sex with her, knowing she was under age.

He arranged to meet her in Heckmondwike after getting in touch with her through the My Yearbook social networking site in April, 2009.

Robin Mairs, prosecuting, said Coulter had kissed the girl on their first date and they continued to keep in contact despite Coulter knowing she was only 13.

He told her he loved her and wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.

After they had sex in December, 2009, the girl told her friends who reported it to the school.

Coulter initially denied having sex with the 13-year-old girl and told police officers he was gay.

But they seized his computer where they found sexual remarks he had written to the young girl.

One of his messages showed he must have known she was young because it referred to her being in her school uniform.

Coulter, of Turner Avenue, Halifax, pleaded guilty to being engaged in sexual activity with a child.

John Boumphrey, defending, said Coulter had a mental age of someone aged 10 or 11.

And he urged Judge Penelope Belcher to take a “rare” decision to give Coulter a community punishment rather than send him to jail.

Judge Belcher imposed a community supervision order for 18 months, during which Coulter will be required to attend a sex offenders’ treatment programme.