A 44-YEAR-old man has appeared before a Carlisle court accused of sexual grooming and child sex offences.

Chris Owen is alleged to have travelled to the city to meet a 14-year-old girl and to subject her to sexual touching in June of last year.

At the city's Rickergate court, Owen - represented by defence lawyer Mark Shepherd - confirmed his name and age but said that he would not at this stage be entering pleas to any of the seven charges he faces.

Those allegations are as follows.

There are two counts of engaging in sexual communication with a child - the first between June 23 last year and July 3, and the second between March 1 last year and June 22, in both cases for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification. On March 1 last year, Owen is alleged to have incited the same girl to engage in sexual activity.

The defendant is alleged to have committed two offences on June 21 last year: one count of sexually touching the child during a meeting in Carlisle and one allegation of engaging in sexual activity with her.

The remaining two charges include one of meeting a child following grooming, between the dates of March 1, 2019, and June 22 last year; and one of causing the child to look at an image of sexual activity.

After hearing background details to the case, magistrates ruled that the defendant, of Montgomery Road, Farnborough, Hampshire, should be sent to Carlisle Crown Court for a hearing on March 10. He was granted bail.