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Adam Johnson handed six year jail sentence for sexual activity with besotted teen

Former footballer Adam Johnson has been jailed for six years for engaging in sexual activity with a besotted 15-year-old fan.

Johnson must pay prosecution costs of £50,000 and has been issued a restraining order against the victim.

He, nor any of his family showed any emotion when the sentence was handed down.

Judge Jonathan Rose said the crimes amounted to a "Category A" offence and he used his status as a footballer to commit them.

The judge said the victim had been a Sunderland fan who would wait after matches to take pictures of him as he was her "favourite player".

Making it clear Johnson knew full well how old she was, he told him: "That was known to you - to put it another way she had only just turned 15 when you began grooming her, because as you were to admit you found her sexually attractive."

He added that the footballer's intention had been to engage in sexual activity with her, knowing that she was under 16.

The judge said Johnson had exchanged more than 800 messages with her, which had largely been innocent.

But he added: "You continued in your grooming of this girl even after you were engaged in sexual activity with her. You wanted no-one to know that you and she were exchanging messages.

"You asked her to find a place to meet that was private and secluded so no-one would see you in her company."

Judge Rose told Johnson the offences happened "at a time when you were engaged in frequent sexual intercourse with multiple partners".

He said: "You made a deliberate decision to engage in sexual activity with this young girl, no doubt in the expectation that you would get away with it."

He said: "Your future as a professional footballer must be in doubt."

Judge Rose told him that he had "every opportunity" to enter guilty pleas to the charges he finally admitted.

The judge said Johnson's decision not to plead guilty meant that the girl was subjected to a year of being called a liar, including having this being chanted by football fans.

He said she reached her "lowest ebb" after giving evidence in the trial.

Judge Rose said the aggravating factors included the secluded location of the offence, Johnson's "disposal" of social media evidence and attempts to stop the girl reporting the matter.

He added: "She speaks of entering many dark places in that year and said she had suffered bullying and stress and had underachieved at school as a result of the case."

She had suffered sadness, anger and confusion which had been "exasperated" because of the footballer's status and standing, he said.

Det Insp Aelfwynn Sampson, from Durham Constabulary, said: "This is a carefully considered and significant sentence which sends out a clear message.

"Fame, celebrity and a position of power does not give you the right to break the law in pursuit of whatever you desire.

"Members of the public are clearly entitled to express their opinions but the law remains clear and Adam Johnson broke it."

Johnson intends to appeal his conviction.

It was revealed in court he has been stripped of his 12 international caps for England. He scored twice for his country.

The 28-year-old ran into the entrance of Bradford Crown Court as a line of police officers guarded the front as reporters and photographers waited outside on Thursday.

The former England and Sunderland footballer's lawyer, Orlando Pownall, confirmed the appeal at Bradford Crown Court.

Earlier his sister said she would not be in court because "I just don't want him to see the pain in my eyes".

She said Johnson's former partner and the mother of his one-year-old daughter, Stacey Flounders, will also not be at the hearing.

In a Facebook post, Ms Johnson said: "Today is the sentencing for my brother, the worst day of my life.

"I just wanted to let all of the supporters know that I will not be attending Bradford Crown Court, the reason for this is Adam has always been my hero, my brother and my best friend, I just don't want him to see the pain in my eyes!

"Instead I will be at home with my little boy, Adam's number 1 fan, Adam's daughter and the mother of his child Stacey.

"I remain proud of my big brother and I am 100% behind him and I always will be."

The player had already admitted another count of the same offence and also grooming the girl, who idolised him.

Judge Jonathan Rose made the jail warning after granting Johnson bail following the guilty verdict, telling him: "You can say goodbye to your daughter. A prison sentence will mean you will not see her for some time."

Judge Rose told the player - who earned £60,000 a week with Sunderland - his preliminary view was that the case falls into the category of a five-year prison sentence with a possible range of four to 10 years.

Read more: Sunderland's Northern Ireland-born CEO Margaret Byrne resigns over Adam Johnson 'error'

All the charges relate to an incident in Johnson's Range Rover when he met up with the girl in County Durham on January 30 last year.

The jury heard how Johnson began exchanging hundreds of messages with the girl on social media at New Year 2015. He eventually agreed to meet her to sign football shirts.

But it was when they met for a second time that he asked for his "thank you kiss".

Johnson admitted kissing the girl but denied any further sexual activity. The girl told the jury how the player digitally penetrated her after putting his hands down her pants and that she then gave him oral sex.

The jury cleared Johnson of the count relating to oral sex but found him guilty on a majority of 10-2 on the count relating to the digital penetration.

After he was found guilty, his teenage victim said she felt "so broken". She said she had endured a year of being called a liar as Johnson continued to proclaim his innocence.

The player made his guilty pleas just before his trial began in February.

After the trial ended, a row erupted over just how much Sunderland AFC knew about what its player had done when it let him play on before finally sacking him earlier this year after his guilty pleas.

The club later said it was "so very sorry" for letting down its 15-year-old fan after chief executive Margaret Byrne resigned.

Ms Byrne admitted "a serious error of judgment" in advising the board that the star winger could carry on playing after he was initially suspended last March.

Johnson, a £10 million signing, helped the Wearside team to narrowly avoid relegation from the Premier League last year.

The player - who was capped 12 times for England - has a one-year-old daughter with Ms Flounders, who supported him during the court case but who told the jury they were now just friends.

Johnson walked into court chewing gum and wearing a blue suit, white shirt and a blue tie.

He walked quickly into the dock, adjusting the top button on his shirt.

Members of his family sat on the front seat of the public gallery.

He sat in dock with one security guard.

Prosecutor Kate Blackwell QC said he had no previous convictions and prior to the current prosecution had been a "man of good character".

Miss Blackwell told the court that there was a "significant disparity" in age between the defendant and the victim.

She said: "At the time of the commission of these offences, (the victim) was one month after her 15th birthday and the defendant was 27. He was all but twice her age, 13 years older. The Crown say it amounts to a significant disparity of ages between the two."

She added: "The most apparent feature in the view of the Crown is the severe psychological harm that the defendant has caused to the victim."

After sentencing, Johnson was led away to the court cells, head bowed not looking at his family.


From Belfast Telegraph