Introduction and Facts
Adam Johnson, the Sunderland and England footballer was arrested on 2nd March 2015 and later charged with three offences of sexual activity with a girl under 16 (contrary to s9 Sexual Offences Act 2003) and one count of grooming (contrary to s15 Sexual Offences Act 2003).
At the start of his trial (on 10th February 2016) he pleaded guilty to one of the allegations of sexual activity and the grooming charge.
He stood his trial on the remaining two counts and the jury gave their verdicts on 2nd March 2016.
There were three different ‘sex acts’ (seemingly standard journalist speak unfortunately) charged in three different allegations –
- kissing the girl – Guilty plea at the start of the trial
- oral sex – Not Guilty
- sexual touching – Guilty, by a majority of 10-2
- Grooming – Guilty plea at the start of the trial
Mr Johnson has been bailed until the date of sentence (absolutely standard, in case you were wondering).
What will the sentence be?
The sentence will be governed by the Sentencing Guidelines for Sexual Offences :
Sexual Activity with a child (p45) – here we thought that this would have been Category 2 on the Count on which he was convicted (as always, it is very difficult to get the actual facts) in terms of Harm.
It will probably be Culpability A for both, because of the grooming and the abuse of trust.
This gives a starting point of 3 years with a range of 2-6 years.
However, some outlets reported that the sexual activity was digital penetration of the victim’s vagina. This would be a Cat 1A offence which includes penetration of the vagina or anus by any part of the body or object, or penile penetration of the mouth.
This would tie in with the Judge’s comments saying that “his preliminary view was that the case falls into the category of a five-year prison sentence with a range of four to 10 years”.
Grooming (p63) – Again there is a breach of trust, which is enough to put it as higher Culpability. We don’t know enough to be sure, but it looks like it should be lower (non-raised) harm.
This has a starting point of 2 years, with a range of 1-4 years.
It is likely that there will be a ‘lead’ sentence on the main charge with shorter, concurrent, sentences on the other two offences in the circumstances (less serious and a guilty plea, albeit at a very late stage in the day).
It is difficult to say for sure, but we would be expecting a sentence of around 5 years.
He will likely remain on the Sex Offenders Register for the rest of his life. It is doubtful that he would need a Risk of Sexual Harm Order.