Adam Johnson has lost his appeal against his conviction for child sex offences.
The former Sunderland and England player was sentenced to six years in jail in March for engaging in sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl.
His sister, Faye Johnson, announced on Twitter that Johnson’s attempts to have his conviction and sentence overturned were denied.
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“Absolutely devastated that the single judge has rejected my brother’s appeal against sentence and conviction,” Faye wrote, per The Guardian.
“But I can assure every supporter that it has made me stronger and I will never give up.”
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During Johnson’s trial, Bradford Crown Court heard that the 28-year-old had kissed and sexually touched the girl, a besotted Sunderland fan, in his Range Rover in a secluded spot in County Durham.
Johnson pleaded guilty to one count of grooming and one count of kissing the girl.
The ex-professional, who earned 12 caps for England, was also arrested for possessing extreme animal pornography, for which he faced no charges.
His sister’s reaction on Twitter appears to refer to the first stage of the appeal process, in which a single judge assesses the case before deciding whether to put it before three court judges.
Johnson can still apply to the full court to study the case again, but the rejection from a single judge means he will not receive public funding.
But for a man who once earned £60,000, that’s unlikely to deter Johnson from pursuing his attempt to clear his name.
After losing the appeal, Johnson must now decide whether to continue with his case at London’s Royal Courts of Justice.
Johnson inflicted “severe psychological harm”
During the trial, the court heard how the former Manchester City player groomed his victim by giving her signed football shirts and sent her text messages asking for a “thank you kiss”.
Trial judge Jonathan Rose concluded that Johnson had inflicted “severe psychological harm” on the girl, and had taken advantage of “a young teenager's adoration of a successful celebrity”.
Faye Johnson set up an appeal page in support of her brother on Facebook. It’s been removed from the social media site, although Faye has used it to show the large number of letters she receives in support of Johnson.
Stacey Flounders, Johnson’s partner, reportedly took their 18-month old daughter to visit Johnson at Moorland Prison for the first time on Sunday.
His parents, David and Sonia, and sister are also regular visitors to the prison in South Yorkshire.