The former England footballer Adam Johnson has been jailed for six years for sexual activity with a child.
Johnson, 28, was convicted of carrying out a sex act on the 15-year-old schoolgirl in January last year.
Johnson 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 on 2 March 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 in County Durham on 30 January 2015.
Johnson showed no emotion in court as he was sentenced by Judge Jonathan Rose, who told him: “All of this is entirely your own responsibility and fault.
He said Johnson’s victim had suffered “severe psychological harm”. “Your standing and your offending are the only reason this child has suffered abuse.”
The judge said the victim had been a Sunderland fan who would wait after matches to take pictures of her “favourite player”, Johnson, who had known her age.
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 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.”
Johnson was also ordered to pay £50,000 of the prosecution’s £67,132 costs.
Johnson’s 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 Johnson should be jailed for up to 10 years for carrying out a “calculated, considered and carefully-orchestrated” crime.
The former England footballer’s offending 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 court was told that the girl was once approached by a stranger and “asked intrusive questions” while out with her grandparents.
In an emotional victim impact statement read by Blackwell, the girl said her schoolwork had suffered as a result of the case and that she had been bullied even since Johnson’s conviction earlier this month.
“I have entered many dark places over these 12 months,” she said. “I just wanted to shut the world out and pretend I didn’t exist and that this wasn’t real.”
The girl’s mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said her daughter had received “disturbing threats of violence” – but that she still believes it was the right decision to go to the police in order to protect other vulnerable young women.
Culled from: The Guardian