Tyne & Wear

Footballer Adam Johnson victim's Facebook abuser jailed

Steven Knox Image copyright PA
Image caption Steven Knox called the 15-year-old an "attention seeker"

The ex-boyfriend of footballer Adam Johnson's sister has been jailed for abusing the disgraced player's victim on Facebook.

Steven Knox, 30, waged an online smear campaign against the teenager after the ex-England winger was convicted of engaging in sexual activity with her.

In a string of posts, he uploaded photos of the 15-year-old, branding her an "attention seeker" and a liar.

Knox, who has a child with Johnson's sister Faye, was jailed for 16 weeks.

On 3 March, a day after the former Sunderland player was convicted, Knox posted two photos of the girl on his publically-viewable Facebook profile, which had 3,000 friends.

He admitted harassing the girl and causing her alarm or distress by urging others to share the posts, despite police warnings to stop.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Faye Johnson, the defendant's ex partner (left), attended the hearing with her father Adam Johnson

Jim Hope, prosecuting, said Knox had posted a pictures of pound notes, with a photo of the victim partially obscured by a football, and the comment: "Guess who this is."

"The prosecution case is that he is encouraging others to share pictures and as a consequence, revealing her identity further," he said.

Durham Police issued him with a harassment warning on 11 March, explaining that the girl, who has lifelong anonymity as a victim of a sex crime, must not be identified.

But on 21 March, a relative of the victim told her there were a further 12 images of her on Knox's Facebook page.

One post was shared almost 1,000 times by the time the victim saw it.

Sentencing him at Peterlee Magistrates' Court, District Judge Katrina Harrison said it was a "very troubling case".

Image copyright Steven Knox
Image caption The court heard how Knox had 3,000 Facebook friends, though his account now has more than 4,500

"The bottom line seems to me that if people are allowed to get away with what he did in this particular case, it's pointless having the rule of law," she said.

In a victim impact statement, the schoolgirl said she felt the trial judge's promise of life-long anonymity had been ignored.

Richard Rogers, defending Knox, said: "He apologises profusely, through me, to the young lady and wishes it had never happened."

The judge also imposed an indefinite restraining order.

Johnson was jailed for six years in March for grooming and sexual activity.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Adam Johnson

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