Sunday 25 September 2016

Johnson faces jail with child murderers

Tom Wilkinson

Published 05/03/2016 | 02:30

Former Sunderland soccer player Adam Johnson is seen in this undated handout photograph released by Durham Constabulary in Britain on March 2, 2016. Photo: Reuters
Former Sunderland soccer player Adam Johnson is seen in this undated handout photograph released by Durham Constabulary in Britain on March 2, 2016. Photo: Reuters

Disgraced ex-England soccer star Adam Johnson may be locked up in a top-security prison with notorious child killers Ian Huntley and Levi Bellfield.

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One of Britain's toughest jails, HMP Frankland in Durham, houses 808 category A and B prisoners serving four years or more, and would be near the sacked Sunderland winger's family.

The 28-year-old was told on Wednesday that jail was "almost inevitable" when he is sentenced for grooming and two counts of sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl. He was warned the starting point for his offending was five years.

Johnson could receive "vulnerable prisoner" status due to the nature of his crimes, which would make him a target inside.

A former Frankland inmate said Johnson's fame and wealth may help. "Money goes a long way," he said. "People will be trying to be his friend. Celebrities on the outside say there's always a hidden agenda, it's the same thing in there.

"He can use his money in there to make him more comfortable, or he may get extorted if he is not strong enough."

Huntley, Bellfield and the African warlord Charles Taylor, convicted of crimes against humanity, are kept away from the regular prisoners, the former inmate said. And he expected Johnson would be too.

"He will be on a favourable wing, where he doesn't mix with the general population."

Sunderland supporters among the prisoners may continue to laud him, but rival Newcastle United fans inside "are going to be pushing his buttons".

Irish Independent

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