Former Sunderland footballer Adam Johnson released from prison after three years of six-year sentence for child sex offences

Adam Johnson.
Adam Johnson.

Former Sunderland footballer Adam Johnson has been released from prison after serving three years behind bars for sexual activity with a schoolgirl.

Johnson was jailed in 2016 for grooming and sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl.

The ex-England international is reported to arrived back at his home in Castle Eden this morning after his dad Dave was pictured at HMP Moorland in Doncaster shortly after midnight.

Speaking briefly at his son's gated mansion, his father Dave agreed it was good to have him back.

Mr Johnson said the ex-footballer may make a statement later and asked reporters to leave.

The father was seen driving off in a blacked-out people carrier minutes later, past photographers waiting at the top of the private lane.

After being charged Adam Johnson admitted kissing and grooming the girl and one count of sexual activity.

He was later found guilty of a more serious child sexual assault following a trial at Bradford Crown Court in early 2016.

He was found not guilty of one other serious sexual offence.

A judge handed him a six-year jail term.

Johnson started his career and moved to Manchester City before signing for Sunderland in 2012.

He won 12 caps for England.

As a sex offender, Johnson will have to register his address and bank details with police and inform officers of any intention to travel abroad.

The children's services department from the local council may also carry out risk assessments in relation to Johnson's daughter Ayla, and could prevent Johnson from spending time alone with his daughter.

In 2014 the NSPCC’s Flaw In The Law campaign lobbied to make it illegal for an adult to send a child sexual messages.

In March 2015 Government made online grooming an offence under the Serious Crime Act, but didn’t bring it into force so police couldn’t use it.

The NSPCC argued that Johnson’s case, which included sending his then 15-year-old victim more than 800 WhatsApp messages – many of which were sexual – highlighted the flaw in the law.

He could only be prosecuted when he went on to meet his victim.

In April 2017, following intense publicity around the ex-Sunderland player’s case and ongoing campaigning by the NSPCC, Government brought the law into force and made it illegal for adults to send sexual communications to a child.

In the first 18 months of the offence being brought in, more than 5,000 crimes were recorded by police in England and Wales.

Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat were used in 70% of instances where police revealed the grooming method.

Johnson initially used Facebook to contact his victim, before using Snapchat to communicate with her.

NSPCC head of policy Almudena Lara said: “Johnson bombarded his victim with crude, sexual messages and a gaping loophole meant it was legal for him to do so.

"He used his explicit messages to groom her, then he went on to meet and sexually assault her.

“After the NSPCC campaigned for Government to fix this dangerous flaw, ministers finally made online grooming illegal in 2017 and now any adult who sends a child sexual messages will feel the full force of the law.

“More than 5,000 grooming crimes have since been recorded by police in England and Wales.

"Now people like Johnson can no longer get away with sending school children sexual messages.”