Adam Johnson to (try to) appeal his sentence

Adam Johnson to (try to) appeal his sentence

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Photo from the Guardian (Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Introduction

We have covered the case of Adam Johnson, the former footballer who was sentenced to 6 years for child sexual offences on 24th March 2016.

It was announced on 12th April that he had lodged an appeal against his sentence.

 

Will he succeed?

Here’s what we said at the time :

6 years is clearly within the range of permissible sentences. While we might dispute the need (or legitimacy) of a consecutive sentence for the grooming – and there is certainly debate to be had over whether or not this constitutes double counting – it does not appear to be so high that the Court of Appeal would feel inclined to intervene“.

We haven’t seen the grounds of appeal (it would be open to him to publish them on his ‘Appeal Fight’ Facebook page), but there is nothing that we have seen in the media to suggest that our initial view is wrong.

We shall come back to it when there’s more details. In the meantime, here is an overview of how appeals work.

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Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.

45 COMMENTS

  1. The original sentence was harsh, which I think most agreed on the original thread. It was obvious that he would try to appeal. With the current fervour around celebs and sex crime the judge had a “heads gone” moment and clearly did not apply some common sense. Might the LCD or one of the minions have had a word in his ear ? I watch Judge John Deed dontcha know….LOL !

    • There would have been no sentence, harsh or otherwise, had Adam Johnson left his under age victim alone. He knew how old she was he therefore he only has himself to blame, not only that her through the trauma of a court case resulting in a suicide attempt. Had he put in an early guilty plea he wouldn’t now be at the wrong end of a six year sentence.

    • Captain, you watch too much television. The sentence was bang on. I don’t blame him for lodging an appeal – he has nothing to lose but as LibEgSor says he has brought it all on himself. Were there not enough sixteen-and-ups throwing themselves at him and willing to trade his fingers in her private parts – and perhaps more to follow – for a signed team shirt? Did it have to be this girl?

      To hell with him.

      • My comment on Judge John Deed was a joke / sarcasm…..doh !….do pay attention. And what about the comparison posted up by Barzini ? Not saying much are you ? Says all about your faux indignation on Johnson’s sentence.

        • Captain:

          1. My apologies for thinking you are one of those who take everything they see on the idiot box as true – even Judge John Deed.
          .
          2. There is nothing faux about my disgust at Johnson. He stuck his tongue in a 15’s mouth and his fingers in her vagina – apparently doing some damage – and then put her through a trial. He knew her age. There are no excuses. If there had been more victims, if she had been even younger, and of course if he had done what he doubtless had in mind, the sentence would have been longer. If the jury had not been sure about the penetration offence but only about the tongues it would have been shorter.
          .
          3. The trouble with comparisons is that you are never comparing like with like. People matter more than property but the chap who fiddled LIBOR got longer than AJ. The correct comparison is with the guidelines and AJ’s sentence was on the money.
          .
          Which part of that is hard to understand?

          • If you believe an adult who consensually kisses and sexually touches a 15 year-old deserves to go to prison for 6 years…..then surely you must be outraged that an adult who sleeps with her 15 year-old student over 50 times was only sentenced to two years?

            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/11898495/Schoolboy-reveals-he-slept-with-teaching-assistant-more-than-50-times-and-that-she-claimed-she-was-pregnant.html

            No one is trying to defend Johnson (although what he did isn’t a crime in most European countries)

            People are pointing out the very harsh sentence in comparison with far worse crimes.

            There seems to be a major discrepancy here…..

          • My original point was that Johnson was wrong to do what he did and quite rightly was charged, found guilty and sentenced. But the other point was that far more serious offences have been committed on children under the age of 16 and have not received such a long sentence. Therefore I highlighted the inconsistency and suggested it probably had something to do with the current celeb sex crime purge.

            What don’t you understand about that and what is your response to the very inconsistent sentencing ?

    • Well, of course he brought it on himself. Is anyone here disputing that? Tulisa brought her difficulties on herself when she decided to drink and drive. It would still be ridiculous to give her a 6-year driving ban for being slightly over the limit. It’s possible to say someone is entirely responsible for their crime and still have a sensible discussion about what a reasonable sentence should be. And 6 years for behaviour that would have been legal a few months later just seems silly. There are rapists and people convicted of sexual activity with actual *children* who have received lesser sentences. I have no sympathy for Johnson himself but his sentence makes the justice system look capricious, inconsistent and, well, unjust.

      • Caroline a former police officer who targeted under aged girls was sentenced today for a total of 23 years for raping a child (under 16) , sex with a girl aged 16 and more ad nauseaum details are here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-36054193. Would you say his sentence was “capricious, inconsistent and, well, unjust” or perhaps the sentence entirely meets the crime(s) the victims need to be centred at the heart of the CJS rather than the perpetrator(s). Adam Johnson knew exactly what he was doing as did the officer in the case mentioned above – the argument about a few months here or there is like saying I only slightly broke the law, regardless of that, the law was still broken and this is the sentence.

        • He got fifteen years then eight on extended licence. Whether he will serve seven and a half and then get fifteen and a half on licence I don’t know; perhap Dan does.
          .
          This concerned multiple victims and a rape – Johnson’s case concerned one victim and no act of intercourse and what he did was consensual in the sense that if she had been sixteen it would have been consensual; you know what I mean. There was also a particularly gross abuse of his position. This case was worse than Johnson’s and was sentenced on its merits; two and a half times as long if I am right about him serving half. Five if I am not.

          • Just in reply to your query on the sentence for the officer. If a sentence is 15 years plus extended licence of eight years then his actual period of custody is down to the Parole Board. He will serve a minimum of 10 years in custody when he will be eligible for release if he is no longer considered dangerous. Even if dangerous still he will be released after 15 years. (custody 10-15 years, licence for a total of 23 years less the custody period).

        • L-E-S, if Adam Johnson had targeted 12 girls like that police officer did then I wouldn’t be disagreeing with his sentence. Ditto if he had raped someone like the police officer did. Ditto if all other circumstances of Johnson’s case were unchanged but the girl had been 13 instead of 15 (like one of the girls in the police officer’s case). For a man who targeted multiple underage girls as young as 13, including with threats and (in one instance) rape, I have no disagreement with a 23 year sentence. This man’s crimes are about 100 times worse than what Johnson did.

          • Caroline, correct me if I’m wrong, are you saying what Adam Johnson did was less serious because there was only one victim and if so surely that serves to centre him and detracts from what he did to his victim. His sentence reflect the seriousness of his crime but acknowledges he, as far as we know, was not a prolific sex offender.

          • Yes, that’s certainly what I’m saying. Just like someone robbing or murdering 10 people is more serious than someone robbing or murdering one person. Are you saying you wouldn’t view a crime committed against multiple people as more serious than a crime committed against one person?

  2. Caroline: Your disagreement seems to be with the guidelines which the judge has to follow (in the absence of good reasons not to); the sentence was well within them.

    Let me add to my previous post; a man of 27 who does to a girl of 16 what he did to this girl is a foul slob and difficult to distinguish morally from this man; but the law has to draw bright lines.

    He knew her age, so the defence of honest and reasonable mistake, whatever you think of it, did not arise. He knew the law, not that ignorance of it is a defence. But he wanted this girl, he wanted to do what he did, and he did it.

    He then fought the case; it’s right to say that he was acquitted of an even more serious charge and sentenced only on those on which he was convicted. We now know what the trauma of having to testify did; again in such minimal fairness as he deserves he could not foresee that she would attempt suicide (nor is he to blame for the actions of the people who have made her name known) but he must have known it would be an ordeal for her.

    And he was sentenced well within the Guidelines.

    Caroline, perhaps you will tell us what you think he should have got?

  3. Andrew: If the guidelines are so rigid as to mandate this length of sentence then yes, I would disagree with them. Just like I would disagree if we imposed a huge penalty on someone driving after drinking half a glass too much. To be sensible, the law surely has to employ a tapering system to differentiate between someone slightly over the limit and someone driving whilst raging drunk. The law may have to draw lines but it doesn’t have to be an ass when enforcing those lines.

    But I don’t see how the guidelines can be that rigid since other cases involving similar situations have received lesser sentences – so it must be possible for a judge to exercise some degree of common sense. The teaching assistant who had a full-blown sexual relationship with a 15 year old pupil got 2 years. The babysitter who molested an 11 year old got a suspended sentence. And to answer your final question – I think the 2 year sentence given to the teaching assistant was about right. (I would have given the babysitter longer and not suspended. Engaging an 11 year old in sexual activity is despicable.)

  4. By the way, in case it seems like I’m making some gender-wars type point about women getting lighter sentences, I’m really not – there have been plenty of news stories involving men who got similar sentences of 2-3 years for this type of offence, it’s just those two female cases were recently featured on here so they’re fresh in my mind (and I can’t think of any male ones off the top of my head).

  5. Caroline, if it was from the perspective of a victim or the relative of a victim I would be concerned about the impact of what the perpetrator did to me/them first and foremost that’s not to say I would disregard his other crimes but that in no way (nor should it be allowed to) trivialise or minimise what he did to me/them.

    • But surely even from that perspective you would not want the perpetrator treated with the same severity if you were his only victim vs if he had victimised others? I disagree that most victims would feel that way. I was mugged a few years back…they didn’t catch him, but if they had and it turned out I’d been his only victim I’d be appalled if he was given a similar sentence to another mugger who’d done it to 10 people. Being a victim of a crime doesn’t (and shouldn’t) stop anyone from being able to see the bigger picture.

      • I’ve never understood the argument that the victim was ## amount of seconds, hours, days, weeks months below the age of consent as a justification. The victim was below the age of consent end of. Keep your hands off.

        In the AJ case there was only one victim, who was 11 months short of her 16th birthday, if he received a slap on the wrist what message does that send to all the other predatory sex offenders who prey on the under age it’s smacks of decriminalisation of sex with children. The law is in place to protect children from exactly this.

        • Indeed, although you have to leave some scope for longer sentences in the case of multiple victims or full intercourse. On a maximum of 14 which would be for intercourse with many victims, six seems right to me.

        • I’ve never understood the argument that a person gets a sudden transfusion of brain cells on their 16th birthday. People mature gradually and at different rates depending on the individual. Just like, for example, people get drunk gradually. Would you give a driver who is two sips of wine over the limit the same penalty as one who has downed a bottle of vodka? Of course you wouldn’t (hopefully). That doesn’t mean drinking-driving is decriminalised.

          • I don’t believe 16 is the best age for the legal age of consent I’m all in favour of hiking it up to 18. There’s nothing about sex that can’t wait a couple of years. However like any law there is an arbitrary cut off point and in the UK that’s 16.

        • “if he received a slap on the wrist what message does that send to all the other predatory sex offenders who prey on the under age it’s smacks of decriminalisation of sex with children. The law is in place to protect children from exactly this.”

          The law also says it is ok to provide free condoms and sex advice to children (under 16s) throughout the jurisdiction. Agent provocateurs ?

  6. The decision makers (police, cps, judiciary and of course the law makers) are publicly funded. The same public also funds free condoms and sexual advice for ‘children’ in the guise of Public Health. Hypocrisy? A sign of a decadent society ?

  7. L-E-S: “I don’t believe 16 is the best age for the legal age of consent I’m all in favour of hiking it up to 18.”
    .
    That could be awkward when people can marry at 16! You’d have to increase that too – and you would also have to say that if a 16 or 17 was already married when the law changed her husband was not guilty of a criminal offence if he and his wife had intercourse . . . all things considered I don’t see it happening. I am dead against reducing the age of consent, of course.
    .
    Caroline: “Would you give a driver who is two sips of wine over the limit the same penalty as one who has downed a bottle of vodka?”
    .
    With my JP hat on: no. We go by the reading, rather than by what they say have drunk. The highest I have ever seen 175, precisely five times the limit. She (sorry about the pronoun but so it was) got 20 weeks suspended and 44 months disqualification. Then she drove, drunk and disqualified, and went down for 30 weeks. Unavoidable.
    .
    To get back to Johnson: the sentence would have been longer if his victim had been just 13 not just 15, and of course where the child is not yet 13 the maximum is life and the offence is massively more serious.

    • I’m afraid they don’t want to hear or see such comparisons as it nullifies their comments. It shows Johnsons sentence to be harsh in comparison.

    • Caroline has addressed this point ages ago. It is you who is ignoring what she said and who keeps repeating yourself in order to derail this discussion furthermore to prove Caroline’s point there was the case of Adam Hulin who sexually assaulted a 12 year old girl http://www.dorkingandleatherheadadvertiser.co.uk/Mother-says-12-year-old-girl-assaulted-Headley/story-21038664-detail/story.html he got a community sentence which was upheld even after the AG appealed the leniency of the sentence. So there.

      • I wasn’t trying to turn this into a man vs. woman thing…..
        .
        I was trying to point out that Johnson’s sentence seems incredibly harsh when compared with other cases
        .
        The link you have just provided supports this perfectly.
        .
        Why does non-consensual sexual assault of a 12 year-old result in community service whilst consensual kissing and sexual touching of a 15 year-old result in a six year prison service?
        .
        It’s a genuine question, Johnson’s sentence seems incredibly harsh – what he did isn’t even a crime in many European countries

        • Then why did you post the same thing three times? So what if it’s not a crime in Europe it is in the UK.

          • You’ve provided a link which highlights the point I’m making – that Johnson’s sentence seems very harsh

      • You’ve just made my argument for me !!! My point (if you bothered to understand it) is that there is a massive inconsistency in sentencing and far more serious crimes have been committed with a much shorter sentence. Hence Johnson can consider it harsh. Yes, we all know its within guidelines….otherwise the judge would not have been able to pass that sentence. But it still does not address that fact that comparatively speaking its harsh.

        As for derailing discussions, your continuous viewpoint that all men are rapists is very tiresome and you need to change the record.

        • Here’s one for you then. Instead of wasting time talking to me who zones you out like background noise, spend time time telling men not to rape that would be time well spent. But of course tackling men about what they do would not be as much fun would it.

          • I’m not sure men who rape listen to men who don’t but it is worth a try – if you can identify them. But they don’t wear a badge saying I AM A RAPIST.

          • Hang on….are you now saying NOT all men are rapists ? Well clearly rational argument does penetrate after all.

  8. Barazini you said that my query was you posted it three times why was this? I would argue that Adam Hullin sentence was lenient rather than that AJ was treated harshly but I wasn’t in court for either so who knows.

  9. Andrew: Would it be automatically longer if the girl were 13? I looked through the guidelines and there doesn’t seem to be an instruction along those lines. For children the maximum is life but the range is 6-19 years if I’ve read it correctly, compared to 4-10 years for sex with a teenager under 16. So the sentencing range for children is a bit higher but not hugely, especially the starting point.
    .
    If the girl had been 13 I would agree with a 5-6 year sentence for Johnson. If she hadn’t been entirely consenting I would say throw the book at him. But as it stands I believe 6 years is too long. Berriman’s 2-year sentence was about right for consenting sex with a 15 year old. I agree Johnson deserves no reduction for his 11th-hour guilty pleas, so that should put him at 3 years to Berriman’s 2. I hope that’s what he gets on appeal. Yes, he’s an arrogant, selfish sleaze, but we can’t give people longer sentences just because of unappealing personality traits.
    .
    Spending a year behind bars is hardly a slap on the wrist, especially when combined with the loss of career both Johnson and Berriman suffered (quite rightly, of course, in both cases). Community service, like in the Adam Hullin case, THAT is a slap on the wrist. I think that sentence was far too lenient, just as I think Johnson’s was too harsh. And once again I think such disparities make the system look inconsistent and capricious. Adam Hullin’s victim was 12 and according to her statement was not expecting/willing to engage in sexual activity, instead she initially thought Hullin saw her as a little sister. Yuck. Poor girl.

    • The thing is, Berriman had full on sexual intercourse with a student of hers over 50 times

      All Johnson did was kiss and sexually touch a girl on one occasion or a few times

      Berriman’s crime seems many orders of magnitude more severe as does Hullin’s

      There are dozens of other examples out there, where people who have done far worse than Johnson have been given suspended sentences or terms of just 1-2 years.

      If Johnson wasn’t a famous footballer, it seems pretty clear that he wouldn’t have received any jail time at all, or only a token prison sentence.

      • When you have a vagina and someone penetrates do please write back and tell us all about it until then you have NO idea.

      • Rubbish.
        .
        The sentence he got was routine for what he did.
        .
        Tell me if you like that the guidelines for some other forms of sexual crime should be higher than they are; there’s a debate to had there. Tell me that some individual sentences were too lenient, and you may be right; Kerner springs to mind.
        .
        But don’t tell me or L-E-S or anybody else that AJ was over-sentenced: he wasn’t. Keep your sympathy for the luckless girl he saw as easy pickings. And be glad he was stopped before he did what he undoubtedly intended to do to her.

        • I’m struggling to understand how anyone can believe that he should be sentenced to six years in prison given the types of sentences which are regularly handed out in this country for crimes which are far far worse (ie see the link I provided above)……

          I’m not talking about one or two crimes where lenient sentences have been handed out, I’m talking about practically every single case in this country over decades – there is no precedent for such a severe sentence.

          Surely you agree that, in comparison with other sentences, Johnson’s sentence was very severe? I don’t see how you could doubt that.

          I’m not defending the guy, just struggling to understand how we can justify giving someone a more severe sentence just because they are famous – remember what he did isn’t even a crime in much of Europe

          If you think he deserves six years in jail, I presume you think that the woman in the teaching assistant link I provided above deserved to go to jail for decades?

          If Johnson was just some guy and not a famous footballer, he would have received a suspended sentence or very short prison sentence and no one (including yourself) would have raised an eyebrow.

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