Footballer”s world “turned upside down”


Adam Johnson trial: World “turned upside down” after arrest

Image caption
The former Sunderland footballer was arrested in March last year

England footballer Adam Johnson said his world was “turned upside down” when he was arrested on suspicion of sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl.

The former Sunderland player told the jury at Bradford Crown Court that he “panicked” and was “in turmoil” during his police interview in March 2015.

Giving evidence in his trial, he admitted kissing the girl in his car but said he tried to “play it down”.

Mr Johnson, 28, denies two counts of sexual activity with a child.

The court has heard the pair exchanged telephone numbers and messages for a number of weeks before meeting in January 2015 to allow the winger to sign a Sunderland shirt for the girl.

He described how WhatsApp messages became “flirty” and “inappropriate” before a second meeting on 30 January.

“I was panicking”

Mr Johnson admitted he did not always answer some police questions entirely truthfully.

He said: “My world had got turned upside down and I was trying to play it down as much as I could.”

When asked by Orlando Pownall QC, defending, about what state he was in during his first interview, Mr Johnson said: “I was panicking. I had all these thoughts going through my mind about everything. To name a couple, my career, my family, I was in turmoil.”

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Adam Johnson began his defence on Monday

The player said he was “surprised” the teenage girl had told police that further sexual activity had taken place.

He said: “I couldn”t believe the things she was saying to police. I felt like someone else was telling her to say these things.”

Mr Johnson told the court he did not try to feel her breasts or put his hands underneath her t-shirt.

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

The trial continues.

The footballer 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.