A TEENAGER who had sex with a schoolgirl has walked free from Burnley Crown Court.

Daniel Ibbetson, now 19, but 18 when he committed the offence, had taken the 13-year-old back to his home while his parents were away on holiday.

They had kissed and cuddled in the back of a car and then had consensual intercourse in the property. He stopped when she told him to.

The hearing was told how Ibbetson, due to have a trial with a "large Premiership club" in the near future, had thought the girl was 15.

He has now ended up on the sex offenders register for 10 years, blowing his chances of his other hoped-for career as a teacher as he will not be allowed to work with children.

The currently jobless defendant, of Salterforth Road, Earby, admitted sexual activity with a child in May last year.

He was given 12 months detention, suspended for two years, with 12 months supervision and must attend the community sex offenders' treatment programme.

The Independent Safeguarding Authority will ban him from working with children.

Sentencing the defendant, Judge Jonathan Gibson said: “The law is there to protect young girls from having sex when they are not emotionally ready for it."

The judge, who said Ibbetson had been an "immature 18" added there had been a relatively small age disparity between the defendant and the girl, he had been of good character and positive references about him had been handed into the court.

The court was told Ibbetson "created the opportunity" for sex with the girl by taking her back to his house.

Her family was very concerned about what happened.

Andrew Nuttall, defending, said although Ibbetson was not working at the moment, he was an enterprising young man and had taken steps to start an engineering apprenticeship with Fort Vale.

He was "obviously an extremely talented sportsman."

The defendant had had the maturity to understand what had happened, come to terms with his criminality and try to move on.

Mr Nuttall continued: "He potentially has really quite a bright future and could be a really valuable member of society.

"It would be a tragedy if this offence was to blight the years to come."