Chris Cairns' lawyer now defending Adam Johnson

Former Sunderland midfielder Adam Johnson arrives at the Crown Court on February 10, in Bradford, England. Photo/Getty
Former Sunderland midfielder Adam Johnson arrives at the Crown Court on February 10, in Bradford, England. Photo/Getty

The star lawyer who defended former Black Caps all-rounder Chris Cairns is now representing disgraced England football star Adam Johnson against charges of grooming and sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl.

Orlando Pownall successfully represented Cairns last year in a marathon nine-week London trial from which Cairns was found not guilty of perjury and perverting the course of justice.

The 63-year-old is considered one of the star silks in London, a counsel regarded widely as one of the best jury advocates of his generation.

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Once the senior prosecutor in cases like the murder of UK TV personality Jill Dando, Pownall is now one of the most sought-after defence barristers in London.

Pownall's passive-aggressive treatment of witnesses was frequently referenced in news coverage of the Cairns trial.

He is now in charge of Johnson's defence, with the 28-year-old former Sunderland player denying two counts of sexual activity with the girl, who was 15-years-old at the time of the alleged incident.

The England midfielder is accused of abusing "his revered position in society" when he had sexual contact with the teenager "in a way that he knew was both morally and legally wrong".

The jury at Bradford Crown Court was told last week that the 15-year-old fan had an 'enormous crush on him' and idolised him.

Johnson, who denies the charges, was contacted by the girl via Facebook and the two began exchanging messages before they finally met so he could sign shirts for her.

Prosecutor Kate Blackwell QC said after this first meeting the two joked in their messages about whether Johnson deserved a 'thank you kiss' and they met again.

She then described how the two engaged in sexual activity in the player's black Range Rover at this second meeting.

Johnson has already admitted one count of sexual activity with a child and another of meeting a child following sexual grooming.

Ms Blackwell said: "The Crown's case is that he is guilty of further and more serious sexual activity."

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