England

Former Sunderland footballer Adam Johnson 'abused position in society'

Footballer Adam Johnson arrives at Bradford Crown Court on Friday 12 February Image copyright PA
Image caption The former Sunderland footballer was arrested in March last year

Former Sunderland footballer Adam Johnson "abused his revered position in society" when he had sexual contact with a 15-year-old fan, a court has heard.

The 28-year-old, who has 12 England caps, is on trial accused of sexual activity with a child.

Prosecutors said it was "in a way that he knew was both morally and legally wrong".

The footballer denies two charges of sexual activity with a girl under 16.

The alleged victim was 15 in December 2014 when Mr Johnson was living with his then pregnant partner, Stacey Flounders, in Castle Eden, County Durham, Bradford Crown Court was told.

See more on this story and other news from across the North East here.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Adam Johnson arrived at court with his partner Stacey Flounders

'Excessive arrogance'

Prosecutor Kate Blackwell QC said the girl was a passionate Sunderland Football Club fan and "idolised" Mr Johnson, who was her favourite player.

"After matches, she would hang around waiting for a glimpse of him, wanting to get a photograph, often sporting a Sunderland shirt with Johnson's name emblazoned across the back," she told the court.

"What has brought the defendant to this courtroom is a sexual desire for (the girl), an excessive arrogance and an unwarranted level of expectation."

Miss Blackwell said the girl had "an enormous crush" on the footballer and made a Facebook friend request to him just before New Year 2015.

The jury was read an exchange of messages between the pair in which he arranged to meet her to sign a football shirt but she made it clear she had only just turned 15.

Mr Johnson had researched "legal of age of consent" on the internet, jurors heard.

The prosecutor said: "The Crown suggest that such a search to satisfy such an interest is unlikely to have resulted from a kiss and no more than a kiss, as the defendant contends."

Johnson: "Where do you go out?" Girl: "I'm not old enough to go out." Johnson: "Yeah, but you look old enough."

Bradford Crown Court
PA
Image copyright Francesca Williams

'Get your jeans off'

The pair met up on 17 January 2015 near a Chinese takeaway close to the girl's home. She got into his black Range Rover, where he signed football shirts, the court heard.

After the meeting they exchanged further messages, discussing whether Mr Johnson deserved a thank you kiss for the shirt-signing "or more".

Miss Blackwell said the pair met again, on 30 January, when they had sexual contact in the footballer's car at the same location.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The court heard the pair met close to the girl's home where he signed football shirts for her in his black Range Rover

She told the jury: "What happened in that car on that evening is for you to decide.

"The Crown's case is that sexual activity took place, that the defendant and (the girl) kissed, with tongues, for some time during which the defendant unbuttoned her jeans and undid the zip.

"The defendant then stopped what he was doing. He did not, as he would have you believe, have a sudden pang of conscience, an epiphany, an experience of sudden and striking realisation."

Miss Blackwell said the defendant then drove to "a more secluded place" as he was expecting "further sexual contact" and he wanted to ensure that they "could not be overlooked".

The prosecutor then described further sexual activity and said there was a further exchange of messages between them after the encounter.

In one, Mr Johnson said to the girl: "It was class."

He added: "Just wanted to get your jeans off, LOL."

The girl replied: "Next time."

Mr Johnson, who was born in Sunderland, began his career at Middlesbrough before moving to Manchester City and then on to Sunderland for £10m in 2012.

The trial continues.

The footballer has previously pleaded guilty to one count of sexual activity with a child and one charge of grooming. He was sacked by Sunderland as a result.

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