Friday 30 September 2016

Adam Johnson child sex trial: Footballer admits kissing girl (15) and says he was 'stupid'

Published 22/02/2016 | 17:04

Footballer Adam Johnson arrives at Bradford Crown Court
Footballer Adam Johnson arrives at Bradford Crown Court

England footballer Adam Johnson has told a jury he did not have oral sex with a 15-year-old girl.

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Johnson began giving evidence in his trial at Bradford Crown Court, accused of sexual activity with a child.

The 28-year-old former Sunderland winger has admitted grooming and kissing the teenager.

Orlando Pownall QC, defending, asked Johnson: "You pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a child and meeting a child following sexual grooming. Did you accept kissing (the girl)?"

Mr Pownall continued: "Did you digitally interfere with her or indulge in oral sex with her?"

The footballer answered: "No, I never."

Johnson told the jury that he knew kissing the girl was an offence but said he did not realise that communicating with her with the intention of kissing her prior to meeting was also an offence.

The court heard that Johnson accepted the girl as a friend on Facebook but declined her request to follow him on Instagram. They exchanged telephone numbers and swapped messages on WhatsApp.

Mr Pownall asked: "Were you contemplating any kind of sexual encounter with her?"

Johnson replied: "No."

He said he asked for the teenager's number because she had been asking for signed shirts.

When asked why he told her not to tell anyone she was messaging him, he said: "Loads of reasons - I had a girlfriend, I knew what could be made of speaking to a girl that age, I didn't want her to tell her friends and them to come and ask me for shirts as well."

Earlier, the court heard that Johnson made a prepared statement to police in which he accepted the "stupidity" of his actions.

Daniel Thomas, junior prosecutor in the case, read out the statement to the jury of eight women and four men.

He said Johnson admitted kissing the girl "fully on the lips" during the meeting in his Range Rover on January 30 last year but denied more serious allegations.

Mr Thomas said Johnson told police he had "no specific recollection" of being sexually aroused but admitted it was a "possibility".

He said his initial meetings with the girl were "platonic in nature" and she would regularly approach him and request signed shirts.

Reading the statement, Mr Thomas said: "I accept the stupidity of my actions."

He said Johnson described his actions as "wholly unacceptable" and said he withdrew from any further contact with the girl because of her age and his own personal situation.

In the statement, Johnson apologised to the girl.

He said: "She's a child and ought to have been safe in my company."

Johnson later described his WhatsApp messages to the girl as "flirty" and "inappropriate", and said he was "ashamed" about sending them.

He said: "I'm ashamed that I did that and I know I shouldn't have been doing that."

When asked how he feels now about the messages, he said: "Embarrassed. Awful. I shouldn't have ever done it."

The footballer told the court he was attracted to the girl. He said the messages were his fault and wished he had put a stop to them.

He said: "I was caught up in the texting and speaking to her like I was talking to any other person and I should have known better."

Johnson said he knew it was a "possibility" that he would be touching the girl sexually when they met in his car and said he wanted to do that.

He told the court: "That was stupidity from me and I really regret that."

Describing the moment the pair kissed, Johnson said they chatted about football before the girl said she had come for her "thank you kiss".

He said: "And then the kiss happened."

Johnson told the court he wanted to kiss the girl and enjoyed it.

He said: "I had all sorts of things going on in my head at the time. I was thinking: 'What am I doing? I've got so much to lose.'"

He added: "I wasn't thinking clearly how I should have been."

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