A PERVERT was snared after the ‘teenage girl’ he was grooming on the internet turned out to be an undercover cop.

Wayne Heard, 39, from Braintree, appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court charged with attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child.

The court heard he was in contact with someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl between February 12 and March 14 this year

She was actually an undercover police officer.

Heard, of Bridport Way, was also charged with attempting to cause a child aged 13 to 15 to engage in sexual activity and to look at an image of sexual activity.

He is also charged with possessing pornographic images portraying acts which involved sexual interference with a corpse and images portraying an act of sex with an animal.

Ruth Becker, mitigating, said a suspended sentence would be the most effective way of dealing with what Heard had done.

She said: “He is deeply disgusted by what he has done, he is at the beginning of figuring out the extent of his motive.

“At the time he was going through extreme stress which is no excuse.

“For the sake of his family I ask for a suspended sentence.”

Heard was sentenced to a two-year community order and 120 hours of unpaid community work.

Judge David Turner said it was a “shameful day for Wayne and an embarrassing and distressing day for his wife”.

He said: “Had this involved a real child there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that you would be going to prison.

“You crossed a boundary that is completely unacceptable.

“I don’t doubt that throughout 2019 you were in a distressed state, but you channelled that in the wrong way.”

At the time of his trial hearing in September, Heard had just undergone surgery to donate one of his kidneys to his two-year-old son.

The judge said: “You showed immense commitment and sacrifice to your real child who without a donation from you would have faced a very bleak future, if not death itself.

“I hope you can save and restore the family life which I accept is precious to you. You may well, to be blunt, have come within a whisper of destroying it.”

Heard must also complete the Horizon programme, which is designed to target the needs of internet-only offenders.