Millionaire's daughter Laura Johnson guilty of riots burglary
- 5 April 2012
- From the section London
A millionaire's daughter who drove looters around London during the summer riots has been convicted of burglary.
Laura Johnson, 20, of Orpington, south-east London, had denied the charges, claiming she was acting under duress.
At Inner London Crown Court, the student was also convicted of handling stolen goods - a TV looted from Currys.
She was cleared of stealing and handling cigarettes and drink from a BP garage. The judge warned Johnson she faced a likely jail term.
Her co-defendant, a 17-year-old boy who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted of one burglary and cleared of another.
Addressing Johnson and the teenager, Judge Patricia Lees said: "You have both been convicted of serious offences.
"These are aggravated by the fact that they were conducted in the time frame of serious civil unrest in London last summer.
"This spree of burglaries and handling stolen goods which you both were willing participants in will attract in my mind the likelihood of an immediate custodial sentence."
'Instructed to drive'
University of Exeter undergraduate Johnson is intelligent and well-educated, the court heard during the trial.
Jurors were told that she chauffeured looters on 8 August last year.
Her passengers jumped from the car wearing hooded tops, bandanas and balaclavas and loaded it with stolen electronic goods.
The jury heard that Johnson set out early in the evening to deliver a phone charger to her friend Emmanuel Okubote, 20, a convicted crack cocaine dealer and thief, known as T-Man.
When she arrived at their meeting point in Catford, south London, he jumped into the passenger seat while others climbed into the back of the car, prosecutors said.
Johnson told detectives she had been instructed to drive from one place to another late at night and into the early hours of the morning.
The court heard that Johnson began a close friendship with Okubote during the summer after being introduced to him by a friend she met while a mental health unit outpatient.
She told the court she had been ordered to act as his driver on the night and had been too frightened to flee.
Theft from Comet
Asked why she had not refused to drive that night, she told police: "I didn't get the impression they were the sort of people you say no to... I suppose there's a fear of them, there's a general knowledge that these are just not the kind of people who you don't go along with, especially when they are sat in your car and have an idea of your family or registration plate."
Johnson was joined in the dock by the 17-year-old boy.
They were convicted of stealing electrical goods from a Comet store at the Greenwich Retail Park in south-east London between 7 and 10 August.
But they were cleared of stealing a television from a Currys shop at Stonelake Retail Park between the same dates.
The teenage boy had previously admitted burglary by stealing alcohol and cigarettes from a BP garage in Charlton, south-east London. Johnson is due to be sentenced on 3 May.