Adam Johnson given six years in prison for sexual activity with a child

Former England footballer Adam Johnson was sentenced to six years in prison on Thursday after he was found guilty of sexual activity with a 15-year-old fan and grooming the teenager.

Johnson, 28, admitted kissing the girl in his car in County Durham on Jan. 30 last year and grooming her with hundreds of social media messages.

He pleaded guilty to one charge of sexual activity with a child and one charge of grooming. He was also found guilty of another charge of sexual activity with a child, and cleared of a third.

Judge Jonathan Rose, in sentencing Johnson, said: "This will be your first prison sentence, this is all entirely your fault. There is an abuse of trust, you are trusted by young fans to behave properly."

The judge said the victim had been a Sunderland fan who would wait after matches to take pictures of her "favourite player,'' Johnson, who had known her age.

He said: "That was known to you -- to put it another way she had only just turned 15 when you began grooming her, because as you were to admit you found her sexually attractive. You made a deliberate decision to engage in sexual activity with this young girl, no doubt in the expectation that you would get away with it.''

The judge said Johnson had lied repeatedly, referring as he did so to the controversy over whether he delayed his guilty pleas to enable him to continue his £60,000-a-week career with Sunderland.

The judge said: "You lied about the nature and extent of your contact with her, and you lied then and throughout the months which followed about the level of your sexual activity with her.

"You had every opportunity to enter guilty pleas to the matters you finally admitted to the court but you chose not to do so, and one consequence of that is that [the girl] was regarded as a liar, by her peers and by the football supporters who would chant abuse about her.

"Little wonder that by the time of this trial she had, in her words, endured a year of abuse, of being called a liar and other more graphic insults, and was deeply upset by what you had done to her and by her treatment, such that she required counselling and such that she reached the lowest ebb after she gave evidence."

The judge told the player the offences happened "at a time when you were engaged in frequent sexual intercourse with multiple partners." And he outlined how various medical professionals had agreed he suffered from "compulsive sexual behaviour," for which he will need treatment.

Johnson's defence team said that the Football Association had stripped Johnson of his 12 England caps, but the BBC and other outlets reported this was a false claim.

Orlando Pownall told the judge: "He has lost a lucrative career he will never be able to retrieve. He has been stripped of his England caps. He has been made the subject of national humiliation and these are all aspects of punishment that arise from his pleas and conviction."

The QC added: "He does not pose a significant risk of harm to children, for [the victim] was not selected on her age but despite her age."

He said that despite the huge publicity surrounding the case, no other underage girls have complained about Johnson.

"This is not the case of a predatory paedophile who has sought out children for sexual purposes," he said. "This was an aberration."

After Johnson was jailed at Bradford Crown Court, restrictions were lifted which prevented the reporting of certain events surrounding the case. Among these was the fact that Johnson had been arrested a second time on suspicion of possessing extreme pornography found on his computer.

The arrest was mentioned in hearings at Durham Crown Court prior to Johnson's trial. Durham Police confirmed he had been released from his bail in relation to this matter and no further action will be taken.

Johnson must pay £50,000 of the prosecution's £67,132 costs.

After the former Sunderland winger was found guilty of a serious charge of sexual activity with the teenager, the judge had told him he should expect to receive a substantial prison sentence.

The jury had heard how Johnson, who played for England 12 times, began exchanging hundreds of messages with the girl on social media at New Year 2015. He eventually agreed to meet her to sign football shirts but it was during a second meeting, after he inquired about a "thank you kiss," that the sexual activity happened.

Sunderland terminated Johnson's contract on Feb. 11, shortly after his guilty plea on two charges was entered. After the verdict was returned, the club issued a statement denying they had known that he would change his plea from not guilty.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.