Millionaire's daughter 'forced to drive riot getaway car'

Laura Johnson

Laura Johnson, appearing in court on burglary charges, says she was forced to help looters during the August riots

LAST UPDATED AT 11:22 ON Tue 20 Mar 2012

A MILLIONAIRE'S daughter appeared in court yesterday accused of driving three men around London so they could loot during the worst night of the August 2011 riots.

Laura Johnson, then 19, picked up three men she didn't know in her car and took them on a two-hour looting spree around retail parks and a petrol station in south London on 9 August, the court was told. The men stole televisions, cigarettes and alcohol and Johnson is alleged to have helped load the items into her car, The Times reports.

Johnson's five-seater black Smart car was spotted by a passerby outside Currys and later at a petrol station. Eye-witness Raymond Johnson followed the car and took photographs after he saw a woman, alleged to be Laura, loading a television into the boot of her car.

The car was eventually cornered by police officers outside Comet. They smashed the windows and pulled Laura from the driving seat when she appeared to be revving the engine to escape.

The Exeter University student appeared at Inner London Crown Court charged with three counts of burglary and three counts of handling stolen goods.

Johnson told officers she was intimidated by the men and felt they weren't "the sort of people that you say no to". She claims one of the men held a knife to her throat and that she was played mobile phone footage of someone being tortured.

Johnson's account was contested by Susan Canavan for the prosecution, the Guardian reports. "Any talk of duress is no more than a red herring in this case. This is a young lady who exercised extraordinarily bad judgment that night," she said.

Laura Johnson lives in Orpington, Kent. Her parents run direct marketing consultancy Avongate and her father holds several company directorships. The trial continues. · 

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