February 2015

AN online sting operation caught a South Cumbria man making “revolting” proposals to what he thought were underage girls, a court heard.

John Fife, 38, was warned he faces a jail sentence for a number of offences which also include the production of 19 cannabis plants which were found at his home.

Fife, of Fell Close, Grange, appeared at Carlisle Crown Court yesterday after approaching what he thought were underage girls online – only to find he was talking to an undercover police officer. 

He entered guilty pleas to four counts of attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity between November 20 and December 1 last year.

Fife also admitted producing cannabis, a class B drug, on December 2.

Defence barrister Mr Tim Evans said Fife claimed the cannabis plants were “for his own use”. He had entered a basis of plea accordingly.

However, Judge Paul Batty QC was sceptical and adjourned Fife’s case until March 26 for sentence, with background reports to be prepared in the meantime.

He told Fife: “The cannabis cultivation operation is a serious matter and the (sentencing) judge will decide whether you were in it just for yourself or whether you were in it for profit.

Judge Batty added: “So far as the other offences are concerned, you were seeking out on websites girls who you thought were under age for sexual activity. Unbeknownst to you it was an undercover police officer.

“Your requests in regard to sexual activity and what you wanted to do to them were perfectly revolting. Be under no illusion you are looking at a custodial sentence for that act.”