A chef whose secret perverted sexual interest in children was uncovered by an amateur paedophile hunter's sting has been jailed for 10 months.

At Carlisle Crown Court, Sean Bowes, 41, who has previously admitted five counts of trying to incite schoolgirls to engage in sexual activity, admitted three more identical offences.

The court heard the defendant, of Curwen Street, Workington, repeatedly used a social website to speak to young girls.

During his various online conversations, in November and October last year, Bowes tried to have sexually explicit conversations with the girls, believing he was talking to children aged between 12 and 14.

He sent pictures of his own private parts to some of the "girls".

What Bowes did not know, the court heard, was that he was actually communicating with an adult - amateur pervert hunter Michael McCheyne, from Burton-on-Trent.

Lucy Wright, for Bowes, said Probation Service officials felt he was somebody who could be treated for his "addictive and obsessive" sexual interest in children.

The barrister handed in character references from two elders of the Whitehaven's New Life Church, where Bowes had been a regular since his childhood.

The barrister said: "Both [references] speak of Mr Bowes and his commitment to the church and community; and the positive work which in their view he has done for the church.

"He is married, and his wife is supportive of him, and on his release from custody, I am told, will welcome him back to the family home on a temporary basis. But it may be that he is forced to reside elsewhere."

Miss Wright said social isolation had contributed to Bowe's offending, and that he had sought help form his GP in November last year to tackle his interest in pornography.

She added: "He desperately wants help."

Judge James Adkin noted that the defendant had been assessed as a low risk and that he had no previous criminal convictions.

But the judge said his sentencing options were limited as Bowes would have no fixed address after his release form jail.

In addition to the prison term, the judge imposed a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, which bars Bowes from owing or using the internet. That order will last for ten years.

Bowes will also have his name on the Sex Offenders' Register for a decade.

Last month, Mr McCheyne, 29, told how he had made it his personal mission to bring paedophiles such as Bowes to justice.

Mr McCheyne told the News & Star: "He said that the defendant quickly engaged in highly sexualised conversations with the people he thought were young girls, urging them to send him obscene pictures of themselves.

"I did not initiate anything but he was very persistent and his conversation was very sexualised.

"I believe he is a very dangerous man.

"I could set up an online profile for a 12 year old girl and in 30 minutes I'd have 300 messages, 99 per cent of them from people over the age of 18. It's more dangerous than people can imagine."