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Millionaire's daughter convicted after driving London looters around during riots

Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Laura Johnson, right, leaves Inner London Crown Court with her mother, Lindsay Johnson, Thursday in London, England, after she was convicted of burglary and handling stolen goods during the 2011 London Riots.

A millionaire’s daughter who drove London looters around during last summer’s riots was convicted Thursday of burglary and handling stolen goods, British media reported.

Laura Johnson, 20, of Orpington, had denied the charges, claiming she was acting under duress, the BBC reported.

However, prosecutors claimed Johnson was a “willing participant” in an Aug. 7-10 crime spree with a group that included her crack cocaine dealer boyfriend, the Daily Mail said.

The Inner London Crown Court jury saw pictures of Johnson laughing and joking behind the wheel of her car before finding her guilty of two charges but clearing Johnson of stealing and handling cigarettes and drinks from a BP gas station.

A 17-year-old codefendant, who was not publicly identified because of his age, also was convicted of one burglary and cleared of another.

Judge Patricia Lees said Johnson faces a likely jail term when she is sentenced May 3.

The offenses were “aggravated by the fact that they were conducted in the time frame of serious civil unrest in London last summer,” Lees said.

Riots flared in London following the police-shooting death of suspected gangster Mark Duggan on Aug. 4 and spread to Birmingham, Manchester and other cities. Police arrested 4,130 people during the civil unrest, which left five dead.

Johnson, a University of Exeter student, chauffeured looters wearing hoodies, bandanas and balaclavas, prosecutors said. The group loaded stolen electronic equipment into her car, they said.

Johnson set out early in the evening Aug. 7 to deliver a phone charger to her boyfriend, Emmanuel Okubote, 20, known as T-Man, prosecutors said. She was convicted of handling a TV looted from a branch of Currys at Stonelake Retail Park and stealing electronics from a Comet store in the Greenwich Retail Park, where she was arrested, the Telegraph of London reported.

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. Okubote is in Feltham Young Offenders Institution from an earlier a 30-month conviction for drug dealing, the Daily Mail said. He had been out on parole during the riots.

Police said Johnson told them that she had not refused to drive the looters because, "I didn't get the impression they were the sort of people you say no to."

Johnson’s parents, Lindsay and Robert, attended their daughter’s trial each day, the Daily Mail reported. They run the marketing firm Avongate, the Daily Mail said. Robert Johnson also is a director of several companies and was a director in a company that took over the Daily Sport and Sunday Sport newspapers in 2007, the newspaper said.

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