Adam Johnson: Sunderland AFC 'knew player kissed schoolgirl'

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

England footballer Adam Johnson continued playing for Sunderland, despite the club being aware he had kissed a schoolgirl, a court has heard.

Bradford Crown Court was told the club's chief executive, Margaret Byrne, met with Mr Johnson and his barrister in May 2015.

She was also issued with a copy of his police interview transcript and that of his alleged victim.

Mr Johnson, 28, denies two counts of sexual activity with a child.

The court heard that at this meeting the footballer was to accept that he had kissed the 15-year-old girl and messages had been exchanged.

In court, his barrister, Orlando Pownall QC, asked: "Was there any discussion of being summarily dismissed by the club? Was there any such discussion in the days that followed?"

Mr Johnson replied to each question: "No."

Mr Pownall asked if he had been present at any decision made by the club with regard to his future, but the footballer said he had not.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The court heard Mr Johnson's father received a phone call telling him his contract was being ended

He told the court that his father received a phone call telling him his son's playing contract was being ended after, on the first day of his trial, he pleaded guilty to one charge of grooming and one count of sexual activity with a child.

The winger also told the jury he "showed a complete lack of integrity" towards his girlfriend Stacey Flounders.

He told his partner to "stop being paranoid" when she asked him who he was sending messages to, the court heard.

Mr Johnson, who has 12 England caps, said he set up a new Snapchat account so that the girl could message him.

'Came to senses'

The court heard that he sent the words "it was class" in a text to the teenager. Asked by prosecutor Kate Blackwell, QC, what he meant, he replied "the kiss".

Mr Johnson told the jury that during the kiss with the girl he "came to his senses" thinking about his partner and daughter.

He then admitted he was "trying to keep the girl on side" so that she did not tell anyone what had happened.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Johnson's partner Stacey Flounders is expected to give evidence in the trial

The player told the court he did flirt with the girl after their second meeting and told her "we'll have to go in the back next time".

He admitted he was referring to "further sexual activity", but added that there was no third meeting.

'Took a step back'

It is understood that players including Steven Fletcher had been due to give evidence on his behalf in the trial.

Mr Pownall QC asked him: "Since you pleaded guilty how has their approach been to you?"

Mr Johnson replied: "They took a step back."


Earlier, in cross-examination, Miss Blackwell said: "Some people may feel sorry for you because you have thrown away your glittering career. The position you are in now was a direct result of your excessive arrogance."

Mr Johnson replied: "I would say more stupidity."

He went on to state he felt remorse for his actions and added his arrest was the worst day of his life.

When asked by his barrister why, he replied: "Because I had been arrested for sexual activity with a child."

In her evidence to the court, a friend of the alleged victim said the girl had been "bragging" about what had happened between her and the star.

The witness said she had told the girl she thought it had been wrong, but "she didn't care because he was a footballer".

Image copyright PA
Image caption The former Sunderland footballer was arrested in March last year

A second young witness said the teenager told her Mr Johnson had performed a sex act on her and likewise, she on him.

Born in Sunderland, he began his career at Middlesbrough before moving to Manchester City and then on to Sunderland for £10m in 2012.

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.

The trial continues.

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