12/02/2016 15:29 GMT | Updated 12/02/2016 15:59 GMT

England Footballer Adam Johnson 'Abused Revered Position With Girl Fan', Court hears

England footballer Adam Johnson "abused his revered position in society" when he had sexual contact with a 15-year-old fan "in a way that he knew was both morally and legally wrong", prosecutors have said.

The 28-year-old former Sunderland winger went on trial on Friday accused of sexual activity with a child – a teenage girl who said Johnson was her favourite player.

Opening Johnson's trial, prosecutor Kate Blackwell QC said: "It is the crown's case that what has brought the defendant to this courtroom is a sexual desire for (the girl), an excessive arrogance and an unwarranted level of expectation.

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Adam Johnson arrives at Bradford Crown Court supported by his girlfriend Stacey Flounders

"He has abused his revered position in society and, having met (her), this 15-year-old girl, at Sunderland Football Club and later on social media, and knowing that she looked up to him, made a conscious decision to act in a way that he knew was both morally and legally wrong."

Blackwell told Bradford Crown Court that Johnson, who has 12 England caps, played for his country "wearing the England shirt with pride".

She said: "His is the success story that many young people can only dream of."

The prosecutor said the girl involved was 15 in December 2014, a time when Johnson lived with his partner, Stacey Flounders, who was then pregnant with their daughter, in Castle Eden, County Durham.

Blackwell said: "Her (the girl's) real passion was Sunderland Football Club.

"She was a season ticket holder and rarely missed a home game and her favourite player was Adam Johnson.

"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."

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Johnson has been dropped by Sunderland over the case

Blackwell said a "sexual desire for (the girl, an excessive arrogance and an unwarranted level of expectation", had brought Johnson to the court.

The court heard how 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", and that she had an "enormous" crush on Johnson.

"He was her absolute hero. She idolised him," Blackwell said.

The girl made a Facebook friend request to the footballer just before New Year 2015 and the pair exchanged a series of messages in which Johnson arranged to meet the girl to sign her football shirt.

The court was told that the girl made it clear during the exchanges that she was a Year 10 student, just one month past her 15th birthday.

The pair met up on 17 January 2015 near a Chinese takeaway close to the girl's home and Johnson signed her football top while the pair sat in his Range Rover.

The court heard that the pair exchanged further messages, and Johnson asked whether he deserved a thank you kiss for the shirt-signing "or more".

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."

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".

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

In one, Johnson said to the girl: "It was class."

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

The girl replied: "Next time."

Johnson has previously pleaded guilty to one count of sexual activity with a child and one charge of grooming. He was sacked by Sunderland as a result.