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Monday 5 December 2016

Sunderland FC 'aware Adam Johnson admitted kissing 15-year-old schoolgirl'

Published 22/02/2016 | 18:23

Adam Johnson has admitted to kissing a 15-year-old girl in his Range Rover on January 30
Adam Johnson has admitted to kissing a 15-year-old girl in his Range Rover on January 30

Adam Johnson said Sunderland Football Club was aware he had admitted kissing a 15-year-old girl.

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The jury at Bradford Crown Court heard that police met with club bosses after Johnson's arrest to discuss safeguarding young people at the club.

Johnson was sacked by the club after admitting grooming and sexual activity with a child, relating to kissing.

His boot sponsor Adidas also terminated his deal.

Orlando Pownall QC asked Johnson: "Were the club aware of the allegations made against you?"

He continued: "Were they aware of the fact you accepted kissing her using tongues?"

Johnson answered "yes" to both questions, and also said the club was aware of the nature of the messages between him and the girl.

Mr Pownall added: "Have you ever sought to make a secret of that?"

Johnson replied: "No."

Earlier, Detective Inspector Aelfwynn Sampson, of Durham Police, told the jury she went to Sunderland after the defendant's arrest to discuss safeguarding.

She said: "The main reason for that meeting was to disclose the offences which Mr Johnson had been arrested for and consider safeguarding with any other young people he may come into contact with through his role as a professional footballer."

The detective said Johnson had not been interviewed at that point and she did not disclose what he said in his interview to the football club.

Ms Sampson said she later received a call from the football club about apparent contact on social media between the girl and another player.

Ms Sampson said the other player had received "likes" on some of his Instagram photographs from an account in the name of the teenage girl.

Johnson told the court he had amassed "significant wealth" from his career, which has seen him receive 12 caps for his country.

Describing his life as a professional footballer, he said: "I think it's every young boy's dream. You get put on a pedestal, people scream your name, it's the best thing in the world.

"But you also get everything done for you and everything's easy."

He added: "All your needs are catered for."

When asked if he became arrogant, Johnson agreed.

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."

Press Association

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