Football: England winger Adam Johnson asked girl for 'thank you kiss'

Former Sunderland winger Adam Johnson has pleaded guilty to grooming and one count of sexual activity with an underage girl.
Former Sunderland winger Adam Johnson has pleaded guilty to grooming and one count of sexual activity with an underage girl.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • A teenage girl met former England winger Adam Johnson for a "thank you kiss and more" after he signed football shirts for her, a court heard on Monday.

The girl's account was given to police and the video recording of the interview was played at Johnson's trial at Bradford Crown Court.

The 28-year-old footballer, sacked by Premier League club Sunderland last week, denies two counts of sexual activity with the girl, who was 15 years old at the time of the alleged incident.

Former Manchester City star Johnson has admitted one count of sexual activity with a child and another of meeting a child following grooming. The jury watched the girl's police interview during which she described how Johnson was her favourite player.

"I got a message from Sunderland player Adam Johnson, who I'd idolised for quite a while," she said.

The girl said that, after exchanging messages, she first met up with Johnson on Jan 17 last year when he signed two Sunderland shirts for her. She then explained how the player continued to message her, talking about getting a "thank you kiss".

"I was well up for it. It was a surreal type of thing," she told the police officer. "I met up with him again. I gave him his thank you kiss and more," she said.

Johnson sat in the dock watching the girl give her account on two large video screens in the court. The girl described how he exchanged WhatsApp messages with her after their first meeting, saying "you owe me for this" and "am I going to get a thank you kiss?".

The teenager said that at the second meeting in the player's Range Rover, Johnson said to her: "I've come for my thank you kiss."

She said that she eventually told him "go on then", and they began kissing.

"I was kissing him for quite a while," the girl said. "He got his hand down my trousers. He started to put his hands in my knickers." The girl then described to the officer further sexual activity between the pair.

The girl said Johnson knew how old she was, what school year she was in and where she sat at Sunderland matches. She said: "He asked me when I was 16."

Asked how she felt, the girl said: "As much as I expected it to happen, I was a bit shocked it had. I sort of knew I had done something wrong." She then said: "It wasn't that I didn't want it or anything. I just knew it was wrong. I'm not one for being able to hold guilt."

The jury of eight women and four men were played a second police interview during which the teenager described more serious alleged sexual contact between her and Johnson. The trial continues.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2016, with the headline 'Johnson asked girl for 'thank you kiss''. Print Edition | Subscribe