A MILLIONAIRE’S daughter was told yesterday to prepare for prison after being convicted of 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 last year 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.
The University of Exeter undergraduate, from Orpington, south east London, was convicted yesterday of one count of burglary and one of handling stolen goods.
She was cleared of two other burglary charges and a charge of handling stolen goods by the Inner London Crown Court jury.
Johnson showed no reaction as the verdicts were delivered by a jury that deliberated for almost 11 hours.
Judge Patricia Lees bailed her and a 17-year-old accomplice, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
She said: “You have both been convicted of serious offences. These are aggravated by the fact that they were conducted in the timeframe 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.”
The duo, who both wear electronic tags and are subject to curfews, will be sentenced on May 3.
Johnson and the 17-year-old 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 cleared of burgling a Currys shop at Stonelake Retail Park in south east London in which a television was stolen between the same dates but convicted of an alternative charge of handling stolen goods.
The teenager had previously admitted burglary by stealing alcohol and cigarettes from a BP garage in Charlton. Johnson was cleared of this burglary and also acquitted of handling these items.
She 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 at knifepoint.
Jurors were told Johnson, who previously tried to kill herself after struggling with mental health issues, began a close friendship with Okubote during the summer.
She was introduced to him by a friend she met while a mental health unit outpatient.
She told the court she was ordered to act as his driver on August 8 and had been too frightened to report the men or flee.
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.”
The court heard that she sent a series of flirtatious messages to T-Man in the hours before they set out on their drive through the Catford, Hither Green and Charlton areas of London.
Johnson was arrested when police stopped her car, hours later.
Another teenager, Alexander Elliott-Joahill, 18, of Baring Road, Lee, south east London, admitted to burglaries and handling stolen goods in connection with the spree.
Okubote is currently in custody following a recall to prison for possession with intent to supply.
He has not stood trial in connection with this case but it is understood detectives want to speak to him about the events of August 8.
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.
The university said it would wait for sentencing before deciding whether to take any additional action against her.
Johnson is the daughter of Robert and Lindsay Johnson who own direct marking business Avongate Ltd. The couple were in court daily to support their daughter, who broke up with her boyfriend last April triggering in her depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.