Former Sunderland footballer Adam Johnson “abused his revered position in society” when he had se xual contact with a 15-year-old fan, a court has heard.

The 28-year-old, who has 12 England caps, is on trial accused of sexual activity with a child.

Prosecutors said it was “in a way that he knew was both morally and legally wrong”.

The footballer denies two charges of sexual activity with a girl under 16.

The alleged victim was 15 in December 2014 when Johnson was living with his then pregnant partner, Stacey Flounders, in Castle Eden, County Durham, Bradford Crown Court was told.

Prosecutor Kate Blackwell QC said the girl was a passionate Sunderland Football Club fan and Mr Johnson was her favourite player.

“After matches, she would hang around waiting for a glimpse of him, wanting to get a photograph, often sporting a Sunderland shirt with Johnson’s name emblazoned across the back,” she told the court.

“What has brought the defendant to this courtroom is a sexual desire for (the girl), an excessive arrogance and an unwarranted level of expectation.”

The jury of eight women and four men was told the girl had a picture on her Facebook page showing her “wearing her Sunderland shirt, standing in the car park of the Sunderland football ground with the defendant, his arm around her”.

“She had one enormous crush on him,” Miss Blackwell said. “He was her absolute hero. She idolised him.”

Johnson: Where do you go out? Girl: I’m not old enough to go out. Johnson: Yeah, but you look old enough.

The girl made a Facebook friend request to the footballer just before New Year 2015.

The jury was read a series of messages between the pair in which he arranged to meet her so he could sign a football shirt.

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In them, the girl made it clear she was a Year 10 student and one month past her 15th birthday, saying everyone thought she looked older.


The pair met up on 17 January 2015 near a Chinese takeaway close to the girl’s home. She got into his black Range Rover, where he signed football shirts, the court heard.

After the meeting the pair exchanged further messages, talking about whether Mr Johnson deserved a thank you kiss for the shirt-signing “or more”.

Miss Blackwell said the pair met again, on 30 January, when they had sexual contact in the footballer’s car at the same location.

She told the jury: “What happened in that car on that evening is for you to decide.

“The Crown’s case is that sexual activity took place, that the defendant and (the girl) kissed, with tongues, for some time during which the defendant unbuttoned her jeans and undid the zip.

“The defendant then stopped what he was doing. He did not, as he would have you believe, have a sudden pang of conscience, an epiphany, an experience of sudden and striking realisation.”

Miss Blackwell said the defendant then drove to “a more secluded place” as he was expecting “further sexual contact” and he wanted to ensure that they “could not be overlooked”.

The prosecutor then described further sexual activity and said that after this encounter there were further messages between them.

In one, Mr Johnson said to the girl: “It was class.”

He added: “Just wanted to get your jeans off, LOL.”

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The girl replied: “Next time.”

Mr Johnson, who was born in Sunderland, began his career at Middlesbrough before moving to Manchester City and then on to Sunderland for £10m in 2012.

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