Footballer Adam Johnson has denied that doing a Google internet search of the term 'legal age of consent' in the days after he allegedly engaged in sexual activity with a child was related to the 15-year-old girl in question. The 28-year-old said the internet search on his mobile phone stemmed from conversations he had with fellow Sunderland players about different laws around the world.
Giving evidence for the first time during his trial at Bradford Crown Court, Johnson said the search "had nothing to do" with the 15-year-old girl he admits to arranging to meet up with. He told the court: "We [Sunderland player] were taking about stuff in the dressing room about a programme that was on a couple of nights before about different ages. Lots of players in our team are from all sorts of counties and we were having a discussion of laws and rules in different places in the world."
Johnson has admitted one charge of sexual activity with a child and one charge of grooming, but denies two further counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child.
The court also heard Johnson's police statement to police, in which he accepted "the stupidity of my actions" by kissing the girl after arranging to meet up with her when he knew she was 15. He added: "I have no excuse. I was aware by then of her age. I recognise my behaviour was wholly inappropriately. I apologise for my actions, she was a child and ought to be safe in my company."
Johnson said he knew it was illegal to kiss the underage girl, but did not realise it was also an offence to arrange to meet up with her with the intention to do so beforehand. When asked by police why he asked for the schoolgirl's number in the first place after previously speaking via social media, he replied it was to "organise how to get the signed shirt for her". Johnson told the court that text conversations with the girl started off about football, how Sunderland FC were doing, his daughter and "general chit-chat along them sort of lines".
The jury were shown WhatsApp messages between the pair, including one from Johnson urging the girl not to "tell anyone that you're talking to me, okay?". When asked why he said that, the 28 year old said: "There was loads of reasons. I had a girlfriend and I knew what could be made of speaking to a girl that age, and I didn't want her to tell her friends." Johnson added that asking the girl what year she was in at school was "making conversation".
Johnson also admitted he "wasn't very good" to his girlfriend and mother to his child, and that he was texting other women in their 20s as well as the 15 year old. He said: "I wasn't being a good person to my girlfriend or my daughter. I was talking to people I shouldn't have."
The trial continues.