A MAN was caught in a police sting as he engaged in explicit online chat with what he thought was a 13-year-old boy.

Rhys Alasdair Hexter, 33, was told he must sign the sex offenders’ register after he admitted the offence at Carlisle Magistrates’ Court.

Hexter’s offending — exposed by undercover police — was outlined by prosecutor George Shelley.

“He has attempted to engage in sexual communication with a child,” said Mr Shelley. “The child is an online profile of a child, a 13-year-old boy.

“It is not a real child but there is communication which has been captured in chronological order using screenshots and chat logs.”

There were sexually explicit photographs contained in these chat logs, said Mr Shelley.

“The communication started on (chat room) Chat Avenue on November 15, 2023, and then migrated on to Snapchat on the same date,” he told magistrates.

The illegal interaction continued during the course of almost a fortnight, to  November 27.

“The Snapchat profile has been determined as Mr Hexter,” said Mr Shelley.

Hexter, of Hunter Rise, Beckermet, near Egremont, pleaded guilty to one charge: attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, for the purposes of obtaining sexual gratification.

After hearing submissions from Mr Shelley and also from Hexter’s solicitor, Chris Toms, magistrates concluded their sentencing powers were insufficient.

As a result they sent the case to Carlisle Crown Court, where Hexter is due to receive his punishment from a judge.

He is due to appear there on May 21, and magistrates directed that a probation service pre-sentence report should be prepared in the meantime.

Hexter was granted bail with two conditions. These state that he must not have any unsupervised contact with a child aged under 18; and must not reside or sleep at any address where a child aged under 18 is present.

He must also sign the sex offenders’ register with immediate effect — effectively keeping police informed of his personal details and settled address.

A judge will determine the exact length of time for which these notification requirements will apply at the sentencing hearing.