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Laura Johnson, millionaires' daughter, jailed for 2 years for looting during the London riots

Laura Johnson outside the Inner London Crown Court on March 26, 2012.
Credit: Peter Macdiarmid

Laura Johnson, the 20-year-old daughter of millionaires Robert and Lindsay Johnson, has been sentenced to two years in jail for participating in lootings during the London riots, BBC News reported Friday

Johnson, who was studying English and Italian at the UK's Exeter University, was found guilty of stealing from an electronics store and handling stolen goods in April 2011, and admitted to driving fellow looters between stores, according to the Telegraph. 17-year-old Christopher Edwards was also charged with assisting in the burglary, and was sentenced to a year in prison.

The young woman, whose parents own direct marketing business Avongate Ltd., is a former grammar school pupil who reportedly achieved stellar grades, the Huffington Post UK reported.

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Johnson has mental health problems and has made several suicide attempts in the past, and claimed throughout the trial that she had been intimidated by her passengers into participating in their crime spree, according to the Daily Mail.

She had set out in her black Smart car the night of August 7, 2011 to deliver a phone charger to her friend, 20-year-old convicted cocaine dealer and thief Emmanuel Okubote, also known as T-Man, according to the Telegraph. 

When she met him in Catford, south London, he jumped into her passenger seat while others climbed into the back of the car, according to prosecutors. 
Johnson told detectives she was instructed to drive from one place to another throughout the night as her passengers, most of whom she claimed were strangers, looted shops throughout the city. 

However, Johnson reportedly stepped on the accelerator when a police tried to stop her car, BBC News reported. 

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"Your actions added to the overall lawlessness that threatened to overwhelm the forces of law and order," Judge Patricia Lees said in her sentencing of Johnson and Edwards at Inner London Crown Court. "You both come from loving and supportive homes - of neither of you could it 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."

Johnson argued that she had been forced to act "under duress," according to the Telegraph. 

"I didn't get the impression they were the sort of people you say no to," she told police when asked why she did not refuse to drive that night, the Telegraph reported. "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."

Johnson will only serve half of her jail time, with 144 days – almost five months – of tagged curfew being deducted from her sentence, according to the Independent

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