Adam Johnson jailed for six years for child sex offences
Sunderland footballer saw victim as 'just another girl', says judge, while NSPCC issues warning to clubs
Former Sunderland and England footballer Adam Johnson has been jailed for six years for child sex offences.
The 28-year-old player, who has been stripped of his England caps by the FA, admitted grooming and sexual activity with a child last month and was convicted of a more serious charge of sexual touching after a trial. He was cleared of another offence by a jury.
Passing sentence, Judge Jonathan Rose said Johnson had shown no remorse for his actions and viewed the victim as "just another girl to get with", even though he knew she was only 15. His victim had "suffered severe psychological harm" as a result and the footballer had only himself to blame for his jail term, he added.
Johnson "showed no emotion" as Judge Rose read the sentence, reports the Daily Mail, adding: "He will be taken to spend his first night in a prison cell later today."
Earlier, prosecutor Kate Blackwell had told the court: "This is not a fleeting contact or a fleeting offence. These offences were calculated, considered and carefully orchestrated."
She added that he was "in the habit of meeting girls on the way back from training to have sex" in clandestine locations.
In mitigation, the defence claimed Johnson had developed a "disorder" due to the attention he had received from women as a footballer and also argued that he was not a "predatory paedophile".
Before the sentencing hearing, it was revealed that Johnson has lodged an appeal against his conviction.
Meanwhile, the child protection charity, the NSPCC, has said it believes the case "has wider ramifications for football" and "that many top clubs are failing to take their child protection responsibilities seriously", reports the Daily Telegraph.
"We are worried this could be a cultural problem within football as a whole and find it concerning clubs may not see incidents such as these as a child protection issue," the charity's Peter Wanless wrote in a letter to FA chairman Greg Dyke.
Wanless also criticised Johnson's former club, Sunderland, for the way it had handled the matter. The club chief executive, Margaret Byrne, resigned earlier this month after admitting she was aware that Johnson had admitted wrongdoing after being arrested yet had allowed him to continued playing.
Adam Johnson child sex trial: what he has said so far
England footballer Adam Johnson is back in court today to face cross-examination in his child sex trial.
The 28-year-old has pleaded guilty to grooming and kissing a schoolgirl, but denies two more serious charges of sexual activity involving penetration.
A statement from the girl's father, read out in court last week, said the teenager had "cried her eyes out" and said she wanted to kill herself as she revealed she had done "things" with the player. The family later went to the police.
Johnson began giving evidence in his trial at Bradford Crown Court yesterday.
Here's what he has said so far:
Behaviour was 'wholly unacceptable'
Johnson has admitted he knew the girl was 15 years old "pretty much as soon as we first started talking", but said their initial meetings were "platonic in nature". The girl was a keen Sunderland fan who hung around after matches, regularly approaching him for autographs and photographs. He admitted he "kissed her fully on the lips" on a second meeting in his car. "Considering her age, I recognise my behaviour as wholly unacceptable and therefore I withdrew from any further contact with her," he said.
'I had not been a good person'
The player admitted he had been "sexting" women in their 20s behind the back of his then-pregnant girlfriend, Stacey Flounders. He appeared to choke up with emotion as he spoke about how much he loved Flounders, reports the Daily Mirror. "I had been speaking to people I should not have been speaking to, and had not been a good person to her or our daughter," he told the jury.
'Is sexual activity like a kiss?'
When he was arrested, Johnson instantly knew who had made the allegations, he said. "That was the only girl that I knew I was talking to that was under the age of 16," he said. However, he confessed to initially lying to Flounders and police during his arrest. "I was panicking. I was just worrying about everything, my career, my family – I was honestly in turmoil," he said. Johnson told the court he was "surprised" the girl had gone to police. Their relationship was "friendly at first", but had become flirty and "inappropriate from me", he said. When asked in his first police interview if he had engaged in sexual activity with a child, he apparently asked officers: "Is sexual activity like a kiss? No sexual activity like anything other than a kiss."
Intimate photo for 'doctor'
A photograph of Johnson's penis, taken on his own phone in August 2013, was brought up in court by his barrister, Orlando Pownall, today. "It is not being suggested that this picture was taken for fun or that you were going to send it to someone," said the QC. "Did you take photos at different times of what I am going to describe as your 'nether regions'? Why?" Johnson told the court it was "to show the doctor", to which the defence lawyer replied: "We'll leave it at that."
Adam Johnson: child sex offender sacked by Sunderland
Sunderland have sacked Adam Johnson after the England footballer pleaded guilty to one count of sexual activity with a child and another of grooming. The 28-year-old winger admitted the charges at Bradford Crown Court earlier in the week and denied two other counts of sexual activity with a child.
"In light of Adam Johnson's guilty pleas, the club has today terminated his contract with immediate effect," Sunderland said in a brief statement on Thursday evening. "The club will make no further comment."
Earlier in the day, manager Sam Allardyce had said Johnson, who had been earning £50,000-a-week at the Stadium of Light, would not be selected for Saturday's match against Manchester United. But a later announcement by Adidas, the sportswear manufacturer, that it was terminating its contract with the player increased the pressure on Sunderland to act more decisively.
Johnson will today stand trial on two counts of sexual activity with the same 15-year-old and Judge Jonathan Rose has warned the jury of six men and six women that they must base their decisions on what they hear in court and nothing else.
"You may see reference to this in the press but it's the evidence in court that you will gather," he said. "This defendant has already pleaded guilty to two offences; you will hear more about them in detail when [prosecutor] Miss Blackwell opens the case to you on Friday."
The trial is expected to last two weeks. According to the Daily Mail, Johnson, who won the last of his 12 England caps in 2012, faces the prospect of a prison term "with guidelines on sentencing for the grooming offence giving a maximum of two years and six month".
Footballer Adam Johnson admits two underage sex charges
England footballer Adam Johnson has pleaded guilty to one count of sexual activity with a child and another of grooming. The Sunderland winger admitted the charges at Bradford Crown Court. He also denied two other counts of sexual activity with a child.
The offences are alleged to have taken place at two locations in County Durham between December 2014 and January 2015. The footballer has admitted "kissing a 15-year-old schoolgirl after grooming her over the internet", reports The Guardian.
Johnson is due to go on trial for the two other charges later this week. Judge Jonathan Rose warned the jury it was "very important" to ignore media reports of the case and only consider the evidence heard in the courtroom.
"The footballer, who has earned 12 caps for England, appeared in the dock at Bradford Crown Court this morning wearing a black suit and white shirt and was flanked by a female prison officer," reports The Sun.
Johnson's partner, Stacey Flounders, was also present. She gave birth to their daughter in January 2015, weeks before his arrest in March.
Johnson began his career at Middlesbrough before joining Manchester City and moving to Sunderland in 2012. The winger was suspended by the club after his arrest. He has since returned to the team but has made only four appearances this season.
Adam Johnson arrested after underage sex claim
Sunderland and England star Adam Johnson has been arrested on suspicion of engaging in sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl.
The Sun, which broke the story, spoke to a neighbour of Johnson's £1.85 million house in Castle Eden, near Hartlepool, Co Durham. He told them: "The main activity [during the arrest] was between 9.15am and 9.35am. Three undercover cars and a scenes of crime van arrived. As far as I know he lives there with his girlfriend."Media outlets reported that the former Middlesbrough and Manchester City player, who has 12 caps for England, was taken into custody for questioning while officers conducted a search of the premises, situated in two acres of woodland.Durham Constabulary issued a brief statement on Monday afternoon in which they said: "A 27-year-old man was arrested earlier today on suspicion of sexual activity with a girl under 16. He…is helping officers with their enquiries." A source later told the Sun: "He has been arrested over claims he has had a relationship with a girl aged 15. There is no suggestion he had full sex with her but there was other sexual activity. The allegations include the claim that he knew she was 15."Sunderland, who tonight play Hull City in the Premier League, confirmed that they have suspended Johnson while police investigations continue: "No further comment will be made at the present time," the club said.Johnson, who won his first England cap against Hungary in 2010 and his last against Italy in 2012, became a father in early January when partner Stacey Flounders gave birth to a daughter. He joined Sunderland from Manchester City for £10m in August 2012, saying subsequently that he wouldn't advise young English players to join the Sky Blues because of their galaxy of international stars."If was a young lad, I wouldn't go to City," he said. "It's not that you're not good enough, it's just that the likes of Yaya Toure are going to play ahead of you, no matter what you do."
Johnson was released on police bail on Monday afternoon, and a club insider told the Daily Star: "There is massive shock around the whole place…AJ is extremely popular and no-one can believe he has had anything to do with anything like his."