Jail for millionaire's daughter who drove looters on 'crime spree'

 

A millionaire's daughter was jailed for two years today for driving looters on a late-night crime spree at the height of last summer's riots.

University-educated Laura Johnson, 20, chauffeured the group through London on August 8 in her black Smart car.

As they cruised around the capital, her passengers leapt from the car clad in hooded tops, bandanas and balaclavas to loot.

Today at Inner London Crown Court, the University of Exeter undergraduate, from Orpington, Kent, was jailed for two years for one count of burglary and two years for one of handling stolen goods, to run concurrently.

Johnson and accomplice Christopher Edwards, 17, were both convicted of burgling a Comet store at the Greenwich Retail Park and stealing electrical goods between August 7 and 10 as rioters brought chaos to the capital.

They were also convicted of handling stolen goods following a trial in April.

Edwards can be named today after a ban prohibiting the publication of his name was lifted.

The teenager had previously admitted burglary by stealing alcohol and cigarettes from a BP garage in Charlton.

Edwards was today told he would serve 12 months at a young offenders institution.

The court heard that Johnson set out early on the evening of August 8 to deliver a phone charger to her friend Emmanuel Okubote, 20, a convicted cocaine dealer and thief, known as T-Man.

When they met in Catford, south London, he jumped into the passenger seat while three others climbed into the back.

Johnson told police she was told to drive from one place to another over several hours as violence spread across the city.

When she stopped, her passengers - most of whom she claimed to have never met before - looted and robbed people, including fellow looters, at knifepoint.

Johnson - who is reading English and Italian at university - is a former grammar school pupil who reportedly achieved four A*s and nine As at GCSE.

She is the daughter of Robert and Lindsay Johnson who own direct marketing business Avongate Ltd.

The couple sat at the back of the court today as Martin McCartney, mitigating, described how their daughter led a "privileged life with a caring family".

He said that on the night in question Johnson, who he described as a "bright, intelligent and articulate" young woman, acted in a "moment of madness".

He said: "At the time of the offence, placing what she did against the background of who she is, this was completely out of character.

"It is not beyond the realms of reason that the way she acted might have been affected by the emotional turmoil she was in."

The court was told that Johnson's mother wrote a "heartfelt" letter to the judge, describing Johnson's "self destructive behaviour" at the time.

During the trial, jurors were told that she had previously tried to kill herself while struggling with mental health issues.

The student broke up with her boyfriend last April triggering depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

She told the court that almost a month before the riots she was raped by two men at a boy's house but she did not tell anyone at first.

Sentencing, Judge Patricia Lees said: "Your actions added to the overall lawlessness that threatened to overwhelm the forces of law and order.

"You both come from loving and supportive homes, of neither of you it could be said that your parents have not provided every advantage they could for you.

"You both revealed your weaker side to your characters in taking advantage of an escalating situation because you thought you could get away with it and would not be caught.

"It is clear that these offences were committed as part of one of the most serious criminal enterprises which occurred during the civil disturbances."

Turning to Johnson, she said: "You were pivotal to this planned criminal enterprise, you provided and drove the car which carried the others to and from the premises which they burgled and outside of which they robbed others of goods stolen only moments before.

"You went out willingly that night knowing what you were about to get involved in and I have no doubt on everything I have heard about your behaviour last summer, excited by what you perceived to be the thrill of Emmanuel Okubote's world."

A University of Exeter spokeswoman said: "The University of Exeter is aware of the sentence that has been given to Laura Johnson. We will now consider the outcome in order to determine the best way forward with regards Laura's studies at the university."

Johnson could be released in just seven months.

She was told that she will only serve half of her sentence and that 144 days - almost five months - of tagged curfew will be deducted from her sentence.

PA

Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
sport Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents The ad shows Prince Charles attired for his coronation in a crown and fur mantle with his mouth covered by a criss-cross of white duct tape
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sport LIVEFollow the latest news and scores from today's Premier League as Liverpool make a blistering start against Norwich
News
People White House officials refuse to make comment on 275,000 signatures that want Justin Bieber's US visa revoked
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLESir Cliff Richard has used a candid appearance on an Australian talk show to address long-running speculation about his sexuality

Sport
Mourinho lost his temper as well as the match
sportLiverpool handed title boost as Sunderland smash manager’s 77-game home league run
News
The speeding train nearly hit this US politican during a lecture on rail safety
news As the saying goes, you have to practice what you preach
Sport
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (front) drives ahead of Red Bull Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia during the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit
sport Hamilton captured his third straight Formula One race with ease on Sunday, leading from start to finish to win the Chinese Grand Prix

Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Voices
Clock off: France has had a 35‑hour working week since 1999
voicesThere's no truth to a law banning work emails after 6pm, but that didn’t stop media hysteria
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Life & Style
Lana Del Rey, Alexa Chung and Cara Delevingne each carry their signature bag
fashionMulberry's decision to go for the super-rich backfired dramatically
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit