Ex-partner of Adam Johnson's sister jailed for posting pictures of the footballer's child sex victim on Facebook

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The former partner of Adam Johnson's sister has been jailed for 16 weeks for harassing the disgraced ex-England footballer's child sex victim in a series of Facebook posts.

Steven Knox, 30, of Bradford Avenue, Town End Farm, Sunderland, caused the 15-year-old alarm or distress by posting photos of her online and urging others to share them after Johnson was convicted of sexual activity with the child.

Knox, who is unemployed, ignored a harassment warning by the police and continued to post about the girl, who as the victim of a sex crime was entitled to life-long anonymity.

 Faye Johnson and her father Dave.
Faye Johnson with her father Dave at Peterlee Magistrates' Court (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Knox, who has a child with Johnson's sister Faye, appeared at Peterlee Magistrates' Court to admit the single harassment charge.

District Judge Katrina Harrison said it was a "very troubling case".

The judge said complainants could be put off coming forward if they were named afterwards.

Durham Police had previously warned internet users that it was a crime to identify alleged sexual assault victims.

The ex-Sunderland winger's young victim, who was said to be besotted with him, has been named on social media numerous times.

Steven Knox.
Steven Knox has been jailed for 16 weeks (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Johnson's trial at Bradford Crown Court heard that he had kissed and sexually touched the girl in his Range Rover in a secluded spot in County Durham.

Trial judge Jonathan Rose was satisfied the girl had suffered "severe psychological harm" and that Johnson had taken advantage of "a young teenager's adoration of a successful celebrity". Johnson was jailed for six years.

The day after the Sunderland star was convicted, Knox posted two photos of the girl on Facebook and wrote: "A don't care if get locked up stand by my beliefs does this look like a girl who scared leave house who that young didn't no what was happening who bragged and lied who Perseud and prolonged couldn't give a slightest care in world (sic)."

His Facebook profile was "public" and he had more than 3,000 Facebook friends, the court heard.

Faye Johnson with her father Dave.
Johnson sat at the back of the court with her father (Owen Humphreys/PA)

The victim took a screen shot and sent it to the police.

Jim Hope, prosecuting, said the next day Knox posted a picture of "pound notes", with a photo of the victim partially obscured by a football, and the comment: "Guess who this is."

Durham Police issued him with a harassment warning on March 11, explaining the girl must not be identified and that she had been caused considerable stress and harassment.

But on March 21 a relative of the victim told her there were a further 12 images of her on Knox's Facebook page, with the message: "This is one attention-seeking girl. Away man, she f****** loves it.

"It's absolute joke. Like and share. Her family will be embarrassed. Like and share."

Adam Johnson.
Disgraced former Sunderland footballer Adam Johnson (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

A photo of the girl was posted too, and although it was obscured, it was the same as previously posted photos, Hope said.

The post was shared almost 1,000 times by the time the victim saw it.

The court heard how people were urging Knox to name the girl, then delete the post five minutes later, so they could see it and spread it.

The prosecution said there was a further, similar Facebook message on March 23.

Steven Knox.
Knox's lawyer said he has apologised to the victim (Owen Humphreys/PA)

In a victim impact statement, the schoolgirl said she felt "totally paranoid" whenever she went out, that the trial judge's promise of life-long anonymity had been ignored and that she had been threatened. She has had to have counselling.

Richard Rogers, defending Knox, said: "He apologises profusely, through me, to the young lady and wishes it had never happened."

The judge imposed an indefinite restraining order. She said she would not make any order of compensation, which the victim had not asked for, as it could be considered "insulting" to the girl.

The judge said Knox could have been charged with contempt of court but the prosecution decided not to charge him with that offence as the comments were not made during the trial.