|Crown Court ~ Bradford|
Former Sunderland professional footballer Adam Johnson will come before a judge at the Crown Court in Bradford today for sentencing on 3 counts: Two of sexual activity with a child (Sexual Offences Act 2003 section 9) and one offence of Meeting a child following sexual grooming (Sexual Offences Act 2003 section 15).
The maximum sentence possible under section 9 is 14 years imprisonment and under section 15 it is 10 years.
The judge will hear from the prosecution and the defence. ALL the facts of the case will be considered and also any Pre-Sentence Report and other material such as any Victim Personal Statement. The objectives of sentencing - e.g. punishment of offenders, reduction of crime (including deterrence), reform and rehabilitation of offenders - will be in the judge's mind. Guidance on sentencing has to come from the Definitive Guidelines issued by the Sentencing Council.
For example, on the section 9 counts the judge will decide the level of harm involved in the offence (Categories 1 to 3) and also the level of Culpability (A or B). Mr Johnson's case is likely to be either (Category 1 or 2 depending on the actual facts) and Culpability A.
In combination those lead to a Starting Point - for example Harm Category 2 and Culpability A gives a starting point of 3 years with a sentencing range of 2 to 6 years. In deciding where in the sentencing range to place the offence, the judge will consider all aggravating features (e.g. significant disparity of age) and mitigating factors (e.g. lack of previous convictions). Where there has been a guilty plea (as there was on one of the section 9 counts and also the grooming) then a discount is allowed for this but Mr Johnson did not enter his guilty plea until the trial and so the discount will be lower (in the region of 10%).
An important matter is what is known as TOTALITY. Sentencing is not simply a matter of adding up the sentences for each count. The judge has to look at the total sentence which must be "just and proportionate" to the offending behaviour.
Finally, any ancillary orders will be announced by the trial judge.
Since we do not know all the facts, it is unwise to try to anticipate the actual sentence that will be imposed. The judge's actual sentencing remarks will hopefully by published on the Judiciary website and I will add a link to them below.
The total sentence was 6 years imprisonment - Sentencing Remarks of His Honour Judge Rose.
On the more serious section 9 offence - 5 years.
On the less serious section 9 offence - 4 months - concurrent - included some reduction for guilty plea.
On the Grooming offence (section 15) a consecutive sentence of 12 months was imposed. Again, with some allowance for guilty plea.
Notification Requirements for the Sex Offenders Register apply indefinitely and a Restraining Order was made.
It is reported that an appeal against conviction on the count where Mr Johnson was convicted by the jury has been lodged with the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division). An appeal against sentence may be lodged within 28 days from sentence.
Sky News 24th March