5:30pm Friday 25th May 2012
By Rachel Conner
A MILLIONAIRE'S daughter who drove looters around during last summer's riots has been jailed.
Laura Johnson, of Sheepcote Lane, Orpington, was found guilty of burgling Comet, in Bugsby’s Way, Charlton, at Inner London Crown Court in April.
The former Newstead Wood and St Olave's pupil was also convicted of handling stolen goods - a TV looted from Currys in Stonelake Retail Park, Charlton.
The 20-year-old University of Exeter student was this afternoon sentenced to two years imprisonment for each offence, to run concurrently.
She will serve seven months in prison due to time spent on a qualifying curfew.
A 17-year-old, who can now be named as Christopher Edwards from Catford, was also sentenced to a 12 month detention and training order for his role that night.
Edwards was found guilty of the same charges as Johnson.
In addition, he had previously pleaded guilty to burglary at a BP garage on Woolwich Road, Charlton.
A suspect who was also in the car fled the scene and is still outstanding.
CCTV footage on Johnson at a petrol station during the riots
Judge Patricia Lees said: "These offences arise out of and were part of widespread civil disorder which erupted across London in the early part,of August last year.
"The effect of that civil disorder upon the decent, law-abiding citizens of this country are well known.
"You both come from loving and supportive homes. It seems to me you both revealed a weaker side to your characters in taking advantage of an escalating situation because you thought you could get away with it.
"You most probably also got caught up with what you, through immaturity and ill-judgement, thought was an exciting experience."
Martin McCarthy, in mitigation for Johnson, described the night in question as a "moment of madness."
He said: "At that time she was at least at a very low ebb.
"This was completely out of character. The way she acted might have been affected by the emotional turmoil she was in.
"This young lady was in a sense acting in a self-destructive fashion.
"Her future has been put in real jeopardy. Her studies will not resume after a custodial sentence and her family will find it very difficult to recover."
The court heard Johnson's mother wrote a "heart-felt" letter to the judge, describing her behaviour as "self-destructive."
During the trial earlier this year, the court heard Johnson had first become involved with one of the men she drove around that night, convicted crack dealer Emmanuel Okubote, through a friend she met while receiving treatment at a psychiatric unit in Bromley.
She had become increasingly close to him in the weeks before the riots after confiding in him that she had been raped.
On the day of August 8, the worst night of rioting, she had gone to meet Okubote in Catford.
She then drove three men around as they stole items, including ones from other looters at knife point, as they directed her where to go.
They made several trips back to a house in the Hither Green area, where they dropped off looted items before going back for more.
Following the sentencing, Detective Sergeant Mark Gilchrist said: "We are pleased with the result of this investigation. Laura Johnson went out on the evening of August 8 with the intention of stealing from local stores and join in the mass disorder and looting.
"We continue to investigate and pursue those involved in the August disorder and are still trawling through a large volume of CCTV footage. Suspects are being identified on a daily basis which is leading to further arrests and court appearances.
"We would like to thank all members of the public that have provided us with vital information, which, as in the case of Laura Johnson, has formed part of the prosecution - we are grateful for all the help received and would like to encourage people to continue to assist us and provide us with information which may be pivotal to bringing criminals to justice."
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