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Football star Johnson admits two charges of child abuse

By Lauren Brown

England footballer Adam Johnson has pleaded guilty to grooming and sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl on the first day of his trial.

At Bradford Crown Court the 28-year-old Sunderland winger admitted one count of sexual activity with a girl under 16 and a further count of grooming after being arraigned on the charges.

The footballer, who has earned 12 caps for his country, continues to deny two further counts of sexual activity with a child.

He appeared in the dock in a black suit and white shirt and was flanked by a female prison officer.

He listened carefully as six men and six women were selected to sit on the jury. The case is due to be formally opened tomorrow.

In his directions, Judge Jonathan Rose told the jurors that Johnson had already pleaded guilty to two charges.

Minutes earlier Johnson had stood in the dock to admit his guilt on the grooming charge which relates to a period between December 30, 2014 and February 26, 2015 and a further charge of sexual activity on January 30, 2015 which involved kissing and touching the youngster's body.

The judge said the jury may read about the case in the papers. He told jurors: "Mr Johnson, as you will hear, is a professional footballer for Sunderland Football Club."

Judge Rose added: "You may see reference to this in the Press, but it's the evidence in court that you will gather."

He said they must come to a decision on the remaining two charges.

"It will be for you, and only you, to determine if he is guilty or not guilty," he added.

The defendant, from Castle Eden, Co Durham, had his case moved from Durham.

Kate Blackwell QC, for the prosecution, said that the alleged incidents had taken place in Co Durham in or about the area of Castle Eden and Wingate.

Johnson is being represented by Orlando Pownall QC.

Twelve journalists were allowed into the hearing, which saw a further 18 people, including the footballer's girlfriend Stacey Flounders, who was accompanied by another woman, in the public gallery.

Legal argument will take place before the case is opened tomorrow.

Johnson was born in Sunderland and began his career at Middlesbrough before moving to Manchester City, and then to his home town club for a transfer fee of £10m in 2012.

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