Former England footballer Adam Johnson has lost Court of Appeal challenges against his conviction for sexual activity with a besotted 15-year-old fan.
Three judges at the Court of Appeal in London announced their decision on Thursday morning after a bid by the 29-year-old to challenge both his conviction and six-year sentence.
At a recent hearing, Lady Justice Rafferty, Mr Justice Sweeney and the Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Julian Goose, heard renewed applications on Johnson’s behalf following a previous refusal by a single judge.
At the start of his trial at Bradford Crown Court, Johnson admitted grooming the girl and one charge of sexual activity with a child, relating to kissing her.
He denied there was any further sexual activity with the girl in his Range Rover when he met up with her in County Durham.
The former Sunderland and Manchester City winger was found guilty by a jury in March last year of one offence of sexual activity with a child. He was cleared of one charge relating to another sexual act.
Judge Jonathan Rose, when sentencing, said he was satisfied the girl suffered “severe psychological harm” and that Johnson took advantage of “a young teenager’s adoration of a successful celebrity”.
At the centre of his fight against conviction was a criticism that the trial judge “misdirected” the jury on issues of his “credibility”.
Eleanor Laws QC, representing Johnson at the Court of Appeal, argued that this must have had “an adverse and unfair impact on the credibility of Adam Johnson in a case where credibility was the central issue, hence the conviction is unsafe”.
The appeal judges also ruled against a submission that the jail sentence imposed was “too much for this offence”.
Johnson’s QC submitted: “When one looks at the sentencing judge’s remarks, he was clearly highly influenced by the fact that the applicant was a famous and successful footballer and, in fact, counted that against him.”
The appeal moves were contested by Kate Blackwell QC, for the Crown.