AN ONLINE pervert from west Cumbria has been put on the Sex Offenders' Register after he was snared in a paedophile hunter's sting.

Stephen McCue, 59, had a series of explicitly sexual conversations with a person he believed was a 13-year-old girl, and even suggested that she might like to show him round the city where she said she lived, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

He was completely unaware the person was actually from an online paedophile hunter's organisation.

McCue, of Mona Road, Salterbeck, Workington, admitted inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Charles Brown, prosecuting, explained how the defendant had encouraged the girl to perform sexual acts, and told her he was doing the same.

During those conversations, said the barrister, the 'girl' had said clearly she was only 13 years old, but this did not stop McCue from engaging in sexualised online chat with her.

The sting was revealed when the paedophile hunter confronted him on the doorstop of his home, streaming the encounter live online - a practice which Judge Peter Davies said must have been somewhat risky.

When arrested, McCue claimed he had not known the girl's age, even though she mentioned being 13 in their online conversation.

Brendan Burke, for McCue, said the defendant had an issue with loneliness and did not set out to commit the offence he committed.

"He was looking for females he found attractive," said Mr Burke, suggesting the defendant was not a "predator".

The barrister said the profile picture of the 'girl' that was used by the Child Online Safety Team looked like somebody who was older than 13.

Passing sentence, Judge Davies told the defendant: "This is disgusting, Mr McCue: going on a computer and conversing with someone who you believe was a real person who you believed was 13 years of age and encouraging her to [commit sexual acts]."

The judge warned McCue that if he repeats the offence he will be jailed.

He imposed a three-year community order, with 20 days rehabilitation and a requirement to complete an accredited sexual offenders programme.

The judge also gave the defendant a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and told him to pay an £85 victim surcharge.

McCue will be on the Sex Offenders' Register for five years.

An NSPCC spokesman said: "McCue’s case shows just how easily predators can target young children through social media.

"McCue’s intention was the incitement of sexual behaviour for his own warped gratification.

"The case highlights just how dangerous the internet can be for young people. This is why the NSPCC’s #WildWestWeb campaign is urging the government to introduce tough regulations forcing social media companies to act and put safeguarding our children front and centre.”