A NORTH Cumbrian man in his late thirties attempted to meet a 14-year-old boy so he could pay him £100 for sex, a court heard.

But Christopher Tennant, 38, who had spent two days communicating sexually with the person involved, was unaware that he was being taken in by a police sting operation designed to catch online sex predators.

At the city’s crown court, Tennant, of Gosling Drive, Carlisle, admitted attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity, attempting to sexually communicate with a child, and attempting to cause a child to watch sexual activity.

Prosecutor Kim Whittlestone outlined the offending, committed in the city this year between October 17 and 19.

Tennant used social media to contact a person who clearly and repeatedly identified himself as being a 14-year-old boy.

During their online exchanges, conducted in part over the Grindr app, the 'boy' referred to having to wear his school uniform.

“It was repeatedly said during the conversations that the young man was 14,” said Miss Whittlestone. That continued to be Tennant’s belief up to the point when he travelled to a supermarket car park to meet the boy.

Miss Whittlestone went on to outline some of the conversations, though much of the detail is too offensive to repeat.

He sent the contact videos of two men having sex and told the 'boy' he was 21 before asking him for share pictures of himself.

In one message, he asked the boy: “What would you do for cash?”

There followed a series of messages about places they could possibly meet, including at a local Asda car park.

The “boy” at one point suggested meeting in a McDonald’s car park, while Tennant talked about possibly driving to the countryside. Tennant also suggested again that he could “pay you to try stuff.”

When he drove to the proposed meeting and realised he was being arrested, Tennant told the police officer: “I’m just so sorry. I know it was wrong. My head’s been messed up for years.”

The prosecutor added: “There was a significant degree of planning and a disparity in ages; he also brought with him £100 and there is clear evidence of grooming behaviour.”

Marion Weir, defending, said the defendant was a man of previous good character who had himself faced difficulties in his life. “He was trying to deal with it in an unhealthy way,” said the barriser.

Since his arrest, Tannant had worked with the Lucy Faithful Foundation to address his issues, though it would take years to work through the problems. “There is an expression of genuine remorse by Mr Tennant,” said Miss Weir.

There was nothing else incriminating found on his phone, she added.

Judge Michael Fanning said the defendant he had repeatedly engaged in “grooming” type behaviour, even offering to pay the “boy” £100 for sex.

“There is too much of this sort of offending and there are too many real victims,” said the judge.

He jailed Tennant for three years.

The defendant will be on the Sex Offender Register indefinitely and subject to a sexual harm prevention order for a decade.