Adam Johnson sentenced to six years in prison for sexual activity with child

'This is entirely your fault,' judge tells former England player

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The Independent Online

Former England footballer Adam Johnson has been sentenced to six years in prison for grooming and sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl.

Johnson remained silent as Judge Jonathon Rose told Bradford Crown Court on Thursday that his crimes amounted to a "Category A" offence and he used his status as a footballer to commit them.

Speaking to the court the judge said: "This will be your first prison sentence, this is all entirely your fault."

The former Sunderland and Manchester City winger was found guilty of sexual activity with the teenager following an incident in his Range Rover in County Durham last year.

The 28-year-old admitted another charge of sexual activity with the child and grooming the girl. He was cleared of one further count of sexual activity with a child earlier this month.

The court heard of three aggravating factors including Johnson meeting with the girl in a "dark place"; his attempts to "conceal his interaction" with her and the "impact to victim", who has suffered "severe psychological harm" since the incident.

As Judge Rose passed the sentence he said the victim had been a Sunderland fan who would wait after matches for her "favourite player". He added that Johnson had known her age when the offence was committed. 

He said: "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 still amounted to grooming

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."

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

Earlier in the proceedings Prosecutor Kate Blackwell QC read part of the girl's victim impact statement to the court, which said: "This whole experience has been overwhelming. Through the process I have had many hard times."

It also said that because Johnson had protested his innocence, she "felt very intimidated by it all and felt very lonely. I have entered many dark places over this 12-month period and at times wanted to just shut the whole world out".

The teenager's mother said in a statement read to the court that her family had "taken no satisfaction" in the impact the case had on Johnson's family and stressed that at no time had they tried to seek any financial gain.

She added that her daughter had been the victim of thousands of "slanderous" and "malicious" remarks and threats of violence on social media.

The statement went on to say that her school work had suffered "massively". She had been unable to attend lessons because of the stress relating to the case and she was under-achieving.

Earlier this month Johnson’s sister wrote a poem defending her brother which, garnered more than 3,000 liked from supporters of the former Sunderland footballer.

Johnson's sister, Faye, remained absent from court because she said:  "I just don't want him to see the pain in my eyes".

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

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

Facebook removed a page titled “Justice for Johnson” which allegedly bore a number of comments about the Johnson’s victim which were deemed inappropriate.

Johnson lodged an appeal against his conviction on Thursday morning.