Daughter of millionaire couple, Robert and Lindsay Johnson, owners of marketing business Avongate Ltd., has received a jail sentence for her role in the London riots. At Inner London Crown Court, Judge Patricia Lees, stated that the actions of Laura Johnson, 20, had “added to the overall lawlessness that threatened to overwhelm the forces of law and order”. Christopher Edwards, 17, was also sentenced. She continued that they both came from “loving and supportive homes” and that neither could claim that their parents had not provided “every advantage they could” for them. Lees preceded the delivery of the pair’s respective sentences with the description of Johnson’s role in looting on August 8th as “pivotal”.
Edwards, a student from Catford, South London, was sentenced to twelve months in a young offender’s institute. He had been a passenger in the car with which Johnson had driven looters to several shops on August 8th, at the height of the 2011 riots. Johnson greeted her own two year sentence following charges of burglary and handling stolen goods with a nervous smile from the dock on Friday May 25th, although her term is likely to be cut by 114 days due to time spent under a qualifying curfew.
Former grammar school pupil Johnson, currently reading English and Italian at University of Exeter, and reputedly having achieved four A*s and nine As at GCSE, acted “out of character” according to her barrister Martin McCartney, when she drove Edwards and two others, Emmanuel Okubote and Alex Elliot-Joahill (both to be sentenced at a later date), to branches of Comet and Currys in South-East London, later reacting to police arrival on the scene by accelerating towards an approaching officer.
Johnson’s barrister described her as a bright, intelligent, and articulate young woman unlikely to offend again given her exceptional low ebb last summer. She asserted throughout the trial that she had been coerced into taking the wheel by convicted robber Okubote and his friends and their repeated boasting of guns and knives, claiming she was virtually kidnapped. Johnson later attributed her unlawful plunge to a mental breakdown having been recently dumped by her previous boyfriend. Regardless, the jury was unanimous that Johnson had acted of her own free will.
McCartney declared the sentence a tragedy for both Laura and her family, with the impact on the general public also apparently significant. Her studies, according to her barrister, are unlikely to resume after a custodial sentence, although in a statement, the University of Exeter outlined their determination to discern the “best way forward with regards to Laura’s studies”.