A REPEAT drugs offender from Carlisle who was told he faces at least seven years in jail for his latest crime cheerfully left the dock, telling the judge: “Spot on! Ta-ra!”

At the city’s crown court, Stephen Irwin, 37, admitted possessing cocaine, a Class A drug, with intent to supply on January 26, though his not guilty plea to possessing the class B drug Ketamine with intent to supply was accepted.

His co-defendant Rachael Dixon, 32, pleaded guilty to supplying that drug “socially” to friends. The prosecution accepted her not guilty plea to possessing cocaine with intent to supply.

During a ten-minute hearing at Carlisle Crown Court, Judge Michael Fanning told both defendants they will be given credit for their guilty pleas, though Irwin’s previous drug trafficking crimes render him liable to a minimum jail term.

The so-called "three-strikes" rule dictates that repeat offenders with that many previous convictions for drug trafficking face a minimum seven year term.

“In your case, Mr Irwin,” said the judge, “you face a mandatory minimum term of seven years, less credit for your guilty plea.”

The judge ordered a background report about Dixon. He urged her to cooperate with the preparation of that report.

She was granted bail on condition that she continues to live and sleep at her current address, previously been given as Greengarth, Carlisle.

Irwin, appearing before the court via a video link from the prison where he is being held, was remanded in custody until the day of sentencing, which the judge set as Monday, March 25. He previously gave his address as Croft Terrace, Carlisle.

He appeared relaxed as the hearing concluded, smiling, and nodding to show he had understood and thanking the judge before leaving the video booth.