DISGRACED footballer Adam Johnson was last night facing up to ten years in jail after being convicted of sexually touching a 15-year-old fan, The Sun reports. The former England and Sunderland winger, 28, pictured during fitness tests while playing for Middlesbrough, looked stunned at the guilty verdict at Bradford crown court, as he had expected to get a suspended sentence according to pals.
Judge Jonathan Rose told him: “You must expect to receive a substantial prison sentence. “These are extremely serious offences. I am going to admit you to bail so you can put your matters in order and say goodbye to your daughter. “I anticipate the prison sentence means you will not see her for some time.”
There were scuffles between police, photographers and Johnson’s family as he left court. The former England and Sunderland winger was warned that he faced up to ten years behind bars. He was repeatedly asked if he wanted to apologise to his traumatised victim but he remained tight-lipped.
In an emotional statement, the girl, who cannot be identified, said: “The last 12 months have been horrendous and there have been times when I’ve wanted to hide away from the world. “I’ve felt so broken. I hope Adam realises the hurt and damage he has caused.”The Sun can reveal Johnson was so obsessed with porn he had an app on his phone to access hardcore material.
He had a reputation within the Sunderland dressing room for constantly watching X-rated videos. The pervert millionaire would even text explicit pictures of women he had romped with to shocked team-mates. They knew he preferred younger women but had no idea he was a paedophile grooming a young fan.
During Johnson’s first police interview, which lasted one hour and 14 minutes, he lied to cops to make them think he was a loving family man. But in reality he was texting a string of women to arrange to meet up for sex, while his girlfriend Stacey Flounders, 26, was at home caring for their daughter Ayla. The 14-day trial at Bradford crown court heard he was messaging at least four women as well as the young fan.
Stacey, who dumped him while giving evidence on his behalf, had told how he confessed to cheating on her with numerous women. Campaigners called on Sunderland bosses to quit for continuing to play him after his arrest last March. The club claimed it didn’t know the extent of his depravity until his trial, even though he repeatedly told the court he told them everything “from the outset”.
Johnson first met the girl when she was 14. She waited around the Stadium of Light after matches to get his autograph and pose for photos with him. She sent him a Facebook request in December 2014 and they began swapping messages on New Year’s Eve. They made arrangements to meet on January 17 last year so he could give her a signed shirt, the jury heard.
He then sent her flirty texts to arrange a second meeting so he could get a “thank you kiss” for the shirt. They met again on January 30 as he made his way to the ground to meet team-mates ahead of the following day’s game against Burnley. Shortly after parking up in his Range Rover they began kissing and engaged in further sexual activity.
Johnson claimed he stopped after the kissing because he felt guilty about Stacey and Ayla — who was born just three weeks earlier. ut the girl insisted they went further and the jury was shown texts sent after the meeting where he discussed going even further at a third meeting. He texted that he wanted to get her jeans off, suggested they would go in the back next time and talked about how turned on she had been.
The jury decided he lied about the extent of the sexual activity after deliberating for nine hours and 42 minutes. Johnson, of Castle Eden, Co Durham, admitted grooming and sexual activity with a child by kissing the girl before his trial for further sexual activity. Johnson, who was on £60,000 a week at Sunderland, was sacked after his earlier pleas.
He was yesterday convicted of a charge of sexual touching but cleared of another sex-related charge. A pal revealed: “He was convinced he was going to get away with a suspended sentence. “He was gutted to lose his career obviously but in terms of what might happen at court he reckoned he was looking at walking out at the end come what may.”
The sentencing guidelines for the offence he has been convicted of state the term will be between four and ten years with a starting point of five years. The sentence of five years can be increased by aggravating factors — with the judge likely to take into account the abuse of his position of trust. During the trial, prosecutor Kate Blackwell QC said: “What has brought the defendant to this courtroom is a sexual desire for (the girl), an excessive arrogance and an unwarranted level of expectation.”
She said Johnson had “abused his revered position in society” and “made a conscious decision to act in a way he knew was morally and legally wrong”. The girl told the court: “Yes, I do (hate him) because he made me out to be a liar. He told everyone he was innocent and allowed people to cheer him on at matches and called me all the names under the sun.
“I have 100 per cent told the truth. I am not lying about this whatsoever. “He knew for a fact what he had done to me and he has lied for a year. “Yes I was a silly little girl but I have had my reputation ruined. I was only trying to protect that in the end.” In a statement given to police, Johnson said: “She was a child and should have been safe in my company.”
He told the jury during his evidence: “I engaged in cyber flirting and I have no excuse. I accept I knew her age. “What I did was really stupid, I know it was wrong. I was not a good person. I should never have done that. I feel embarrassed, awful.” The detective who led the investigation said Johnson exploited his position as a “local hero to take advantage of a young and impressionable girl”.
Detective Inspector Aelfwynn Sampson said the player was “living most schoolboys’ dreams” and was idolised by thousands when he picked out the girl fan. She stressed: “From the start of their contact, he knew full well that she had just turned 15 and yet this did not stop him. “The law is clear. The legal age of consent is set at 16 to protect young people. He no doubt thought that he would get away it, but today demonstrates that no one is above the law.”
She thanked the girl for her courage and her family for supporting her. Gerry Wareham, chief crown prosecutor for CPS North East, said: “Johnson knew what he was doing was wrong and went to great lengths to hide it.” Clare Phillipson, director of Wearside Women in Need, accused Sunderland bosses of a “catastrophic error of judgment” for playing Johnson in the run-up to the trial.
A spokesman for Sunderland said: “Had the club known that Mr Johnson intended to plead guilty to any of these charges, then his employment would have been terminated immediately.”