Millionaire's daughter 'part and parcel' of looting

 

A university-educated millionaire's daughter who drove looters around while they robbed people at knifepoint during last year's riots was "part and parcel" of the criminality, a court heard today.

Laura Johnson, 20, was given opportunities to call the police and drive away from four men who had "effectively kidnapped" her, London's Inner Crown Court heard.

Johnson had gone to pick up her friend Emmanuel Okubote, 20, known as T-Man, from Curry's, in Bromley Road, Catford, south east London, when he and three other men wearing hooded tops, bandanas and balaclavas, got into the back of her car and ordered her to drive.

The student had begun a close friendship with Okubote during the summer after being introduced to him by a friend she met while a mental health unit outpatient.

Johnson, who the jury has heard previously tried to kill herself, says she was too frightened to report the men or flee during their rioting on August 8.

The defendant denies being a willing participant in the gang as they drove around the Catford, Hither Green and Charlton areas of London while the men got in and out of the car to loot and rob people.

But today Sandy Canavan, prosecuting, said the student was making things up as she went along in her defence.

Johnson was in possession of mobile phones during her effective "kidnap", which meant the four men believed she would not report them, the barrister said.

Miss Canavan said: "The only reality is you were left with the phones as they (the men) were absolutely sure they weren't at any risk of you having access to those because you were very much part and parcel of what was taking place."

The defendant entered a petrol station alone that evening to pay for fuel and could have raised the alarm, Miss Canavan said.

"If you had the phones with you, you could have called the police yourself," she said.

"I could have, yes," answered the defendant.

"You could have texted anybody to indicate you were in trouble," Miss Canavan added.

"I could have, yes," replied Johnson.

"The reality is you would have got in touch with somebody to say 'I am in trouble, help'."

The defendant answered "No I wouldn't", and agreed with the barrister's suggestion that she was "terrified".

Johnson, from Orpington, south east London, denies three counts of burglary and three alternative counts of handling stolen goods.

 

 

The eight men and four women of the jury have heard that Johnson was raped by two men on July 14 last year, but did not tell anyone at first, causing her mental health to become "worse than ever before".

Jurors have heard she began self-harming after splitting up with her boyfriend earlier in the year and tried to commit suicide six times by overdosing on tablets.

The defendant has said her mental health was very unstable leading up to the evening of August 8 and she was taking anti-depressants and medication for anxiety at the time of the rioting.

Johnson said Okubote - T-Man - was physically violent towards her, placing a hand around the back of her neck in a threatening manner when she argued with the men in the car.

Today she admitted lying in police interview, telling detectives she was not directly threatened.

"That's a lie, yes," she said.

Miss Canavan said: "You have taken the considered decision to lie to everybody in interview about what had happened."

The defendant said: "I was minimising."

Miss Canavan said Johnson was "trying to make the case of duress better" by changing her account and she was never actually threatened by T-Man, about whom Johnson was "crazy", the barrister said, "head over heels".

"You've added layers and layers, helping you play out a false defence of duress but it's the only one you can think of to get you out of the ruin you have made of your life."

ohnson's barrister, Martin McCarthy, asked her: "Have you made up the rape to help you with this case?"

She replied "No," and said she did not find it easy to discuss.

The court heard that Johnson was preoccupied with her weight in her early teens and cut the word "fat" into her thigh aged 14.

Reading through her medical notes, Mr McCarthy said she had classed herself as "hideous" and would freeze when attention was put on her.

Brian McKenzie, a chartered clinical and forensic psychologist, who treated the defendant last year, said in a report she was "certainly vulnerable to exploitation from others".

The jury heard she disappeared for a day last July and allowed her credit card to be used with a lot of money being spent on it.

Johnson and her boyfriend broke up in April last year triggering in her depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, the court heard.

Mr McKenzie said he found in her "an emotional flatness or indifference to her predicament".

He also said she had a "loss of hope, a resignation and indifference to what the future might bring," yet it was still important to her to be able to help her family.

Mr McKenzie said Johnson told him about the rape which the court heard happened on July 14 last year at a boy's house.

The psychologist said Johnson told him she said "No," to the attackers but she was unable to fight them off and froze.

After the attack finished she apologised to them, he said.

"It felt to me very significant of how worthless she was feeling about herself at that point," Mr McKenzie said.

"It brought to the surface how deeply damaged she was at that point.

"It's a horrific experience but to me her response during the rape showed an enormous psychological disturbance."

Mr McKenzie will continue giving evidence at 9.30am tomorrow.

A 17-year-old defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admits one count of burglary but denies two further counts of burglary or handling stolen goods.

PA

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
football

Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
Designer Oscar de la Renta takes a bow after showing his Spring 2015 collection in September, his last show before his death
fashionThe passing of the legendary designer has left a vacancy: couturier to America’s royalty, says fashion editor Alexander Fury
Life and Style
tech

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why