Johnson given six-year sentence for child sex act

Adam Johnson's prosecutor said the former Sunderland midfielder's sentence was aggravated by those close to him encouraging abuse of his victim.
Adam Johnson's prosecutor said the former Sunderland midfielder's sentence was aggravated by those close to him encouraging abuse of his victim.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Former England footballer Adam Johnson has been jailed for six years for sexual activity with a child.

The 28-year-old was convicted of carrying out a sex act on the 15-year-old schoolgirl in January last year.

He had denied all four of the allegations until the first day of his trial, when he pleaded guilty to one count of grooming and one count of kissing the schoolgirl.

He continued to deny that he did anything further than kiss the teenager and disputed her two allegations of sexual offences.

But earlier this month he was found guilty by a majority verdict of carrying out a sex act on her in his black Range Rover behind a Chinese takeaway restaurant in County Durham.

Johnson showed no emotion at Bradford Crown Court yesterday as he was sentenced by Judge Jonathan Rose, who told him: "All of this is entirely your own responsibility and fault."

He said to the former Sunderland footballer, "Your standing and your offending are the only reason this child has suffered abuse."

Johnson was also ordered to pay £50,000 of the prosecution's costs.

His sister Faye and Stacey Flounders, the mother of his one-year-old daughter, were not in court for his sentencing.

Prosecutor Kate Blackwell had told the court that Johnson should be jailed for up to 10 years for carrying out a "calculated, considered and carefully-orchestrated" crime.

The footballer's offensive behaviour had left his teenage victim with "severe psychological harm" and suicidal thoughts, she said.

The teenager has undergone counselling for depression, suicidal thoughts and anxiety, Blackwell said, and lives in fear of being recognised.

The girl's mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said her daughter had received "disturbing threats of violence" - but she still believes it was the right decision to go to the police in order to protect other vulnerable young women.

Blackwell added that the former England midfielder "was in the habit of meeting girls on the way back from training to have sex" in clandestine locations.

The prosecutor said that another aggravating factor was that those close to Johnson - including Faye - have "openly encouraged and promoted" his supporters to "repeatedly and doggedly" abuse the footballer's victim on social media.

Faye said she remained proud and "100 per cent behind" her brother before he was sentenced.

In an emotional post to the footballer's supporters yesterday morning, she said it was "the worst day of my life".

It was revealed during the sentencing that Johnson had been stripped of his 12 England caps.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2016, with the headline 'Johnson given six-year sentence for child sex act'. Print Edition | Subscribe