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Court hears Adam Johnson's texts to girl "grooming in its purest form"

NewsBy Sunday World
Johnson arriving into court yesterday
Johnson arriving into court yesterday

Former Sunderland footballer Adam Johnson manipulated a 15-year-old girl for sexual activity in a case of "grooming in its purest form", a court has heard.

Johnson is on trial at Bradford Crown Court accused of sexual activity with the teenage Sunderland fan.

The 28-year-old has admitted grooming and kissing the girl but denies that further sex acts took place in a car park behind a Chinese takeaway.

The prosecution said they expected the jury had seen through the player's "transparent cloak of rectitude" to the "core of deceit and lies".

Kate Blackwell QC, prosecuting, told the court that WhatsApp messages exchanged between the pair were "building up to a sexual encounter".

She said: "What's clear through the WhatsApp messages is he guided her in a classic case of grooming. Grooming in its purest form."

In the prosecution's closing speech, Miss Blackwell said Johnson was a man who had "pretty much everything" but cheated on his girlfriend, Stacey Flounders, the mother of his daughter, in a way that "demonstrated his exceptional duplicity".

She said: "It epitomises the sort of man who would commit the offences that are on this indictment."

Miss Blackwell continued: "By his own admission, Adam Johnson is not a man of honour. It is the prosecution's case that he has not faced up to his responsibilities and he has demonstrated that he lacks integrity.

"He lacks integrity through his dealings with (the girl), through his dealings with (his girlfriend) Stacey Flounders and through his dealings with the courts.

"He's a self-confessed arrogant man who throws himself at your mercy and asks you to accept that his contrition for what he has done is genuine.

"But we expect you have seen through his transparent cloak of rectitude. It doesn't take much to lift the material and peek inside to the core of deceit and lies."

Miss Blackwell told the court Johnson's claims that the sexual activity had not gone further than a kiss were "preposterous".

She said it was "human nature to want to go further".

She added: "He's a man who has lied and lied and lied again."

The prosecutor told the jury that some of the girl's evidence was inconsistent but added: "She's not a young child but neither is she a sophisticated adult.

"All the make-up and sparkly dresses in the world cannot mature the soul.

"While she thinks she knows it all, she has so much to learn."

Miss Blackwell said there was no evidence that the girl made the complaint to get Johnson into trouble and said her parents made the decision to go to the police.

She said: "She did not have sinister or devious intent in bringing this case to court.

"She was placed in a position where she had no choice."

Miss Blackwell said Johnson did not enter early guilty pleas to the charges involving grooming and kissing the girl so he could continue his football career for as long as possible.

"It was the defendant's choice to avoid a conviction as long as he could to avoid signing the sex offenders register and avoid hanging up his boots," she said.

"The fact that he was given the green light to continue playing for his club was not a green light to continue lying to the courts."

Orlando Pownall QC, giving the closing speech for the defence, said to the jury: "Whatever your verdicts, everybody is a loser.

"(The girl) has been affected by what happened, whatever you might think about the events that unfolded, she was then a child who, for that reason alone, deserved protection."

He continued: "Mr Johnson will have to pay the price for his actions. He has lost his job, he has been dropped by his sponsors and he will be subject to criticism, both publicly and privately, for many years to come."

Mr Pownall told the jury that both the girl and Johnson had lied in the past. He said: "The Crown spoke of inconsistencies, silly details. They ask you to cut her some slack. I'm not asking you to cut Mr Johnson some slack."

He added: "Harsh though it may be, she has lied."

Mr Pownall told the jury that "image mattered" to the girl, who was "infatuated" with Johnson.

He said: "She didn't want to lose face."

The barrister ended his speech by urging the jury to acquit Johnson on both counts of sexual activity with a child.

He said: "Mr Johnson is deserving of little, not your sympathy, not your approval in respect of any aspect of his behaviour, but he deserves one thing, if nothing else, and that's a clear and fair, dispassionate consideration by you of all the evidence."

Johnson appeared in court wearing a dark suit with a silver tie. He sat in the dock and listened, without expression, to the speeches made to the jury.

The former Sunderland winger has admitted charges of grooming and sexual activity with a child, involving kissing. He denies two further counts of sexual activity with a child, involving digital penetration and oral sex.

The trial was adjourned until Monday.