An Elvis fanatic who was caught attempting to groom children by a paedophile hunting group has been spared jail.
Mark Aaron Presley was arrested on North Pier in Blackpool following a sting operation by an anti-paedophile movement, the Innocence Keepers.
The group alleged Presley, 49, of Edmonton Place, Bispham, thought he was meeting a teenage girl.
Officers turned up at the scene following their tip off.
A judge at Preston Crown Court imposed a three year community order.
Judge Andrew Woolman ordered Presley, who suffers a physical disability and attended court with a walking aid, to sign the Sex Offender’s Register for five years.
He also imposed a five-year sexual harm prevention order restricting his access to young girls and to the internet. He must also complete a rehabilitation activity to address his offending behaviour.
Presley previously admitted attempting to incite a girl aged 13 to 15 to engage in sexual activity, and attempting to meet a girl following grooming.
One of the group members, a grandmother involved in the sting, told The Gazette how Elvis-obsessed Presley sent her video and songs of his idol, believing she was a 13-year-old girl, before the conversation turned sexual.
She said: “He was a bit of an unusual one because he actually followed all the anti paedophile groups Facebook pages, including us, and even wrote on our wall saying: ‘How can I help?’
“It was a blatant attempt to make it look like he supported our cause. He was saying things like: ‘Please stay safe online, I want to keep you safe.’ At first even I thought he might be harmless, until his language changed.”
After his conviction, outraged former friends left posts on his Facebook pages warning him not to come back to Blackpool.
A man said: “You’re going to have to move out of Blackpool soon everyone knows what you are now.”
One woman posted a link to his sting and said: “You’ve now been convicted, I hope you’re not thinking of coming back to Blackpool.”
To stay safe online go to www.ceop.gov.uk/ http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/ and http://www.getsafeonline.org.uk/