A FORTY-three-year old Maryport man caught with a kilo of cocaine has admitted conspiring to supply the Class A drug.

Prosecutors say that Robert Alan McNichol and his co-defendant Elliot James Bramley, 24, were involved in up to 23 trips linked to drug dealing worth.

A Carlisle Crown Court judge warned both men that they face inevitable prison terms.

McNichol, of Greenwood Terrace, Maryport, and Bramley, of Harehills Road, Leeds, both admitted conspiring to supply cocaine between January and November of last year.

Prosecutor Alaric Walmsley said that police believed that defendants were involved in trafficking at least 5kilos of cocaine - worth tens of thousands of pounds - as they what police believe were between 20 and 23 trips.

Kim Whittlestone, for McNichol, said her client denied that he had played a leading role in the conspiracy, despite being caught with a kilo of the Class A drug.

He insisted he was acting under direction from other people.

Jamie Baxter, for Bramley, said his client had suggested some of the trips the men were involved in were made for the purpose of cash collection rather than drug delivery.

Judge Simon Medland QC ruled that there should now be a hearing to determine the facts of the case.

That will take place on April 22.

In the meantime, he granted Bramley bail so he can "put his affairs in order".

The defendants are facing "substantial sentences," said the judge.

In the meantime, Bramley will have to observe an electronically monitored 9pm to 6am curfew, with every two days of this equating to one day of the jail term he will inevitably get.

He granted the bail with additional conditions, including that he must have no contact with his co-defendant and he must report to his local police station on Mondays and Fridays.

The judge added: "I am going to order pre-sentence reports on [Bramley]. Inevitably, there will be immediate custody but it will help the judge in terms of the length of it."

McNichol was remanded in custody. The fact-finding hearing is expected to last half a day.

The defendants will be sentenced after that hearing has concluded. At an earlier hearing, McNichol admitted a separate charge of possessing cocaine with intento supply. This followed his arrest while in possession of the kilo of cocaine.

* Recent reports suggest that a kilo of cocaine in the north of England is worth around £65,000, while 5 kilos of the drug would be worth in the region of £325,000.