THE daughter of a millionaire accused of taking part in the summer riots turned to a drug dealer and robber for support because she had been raped by two men a month earlier, a court heard.
Laura Johnson, 20, said Emmanuel Okubote, known as T-Man, had been a “pillar of strength” to her when she was suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts after the rape, which she never reported to police, and after breaking up with her boyfriend. She told the court she had subsequently tried to kill herself six times.
Their relationship had been so close that she “fancied” him and became “affectionate towards” him despite knowing his criminal past.
But he turned from understanding to threatening on the night of the riots when he forced her to drive him and three friends around London so they could loot and rob, she said.
Giving evidence at Inner London Crown Court, Miss Johnson said she had met T-Man through her friend Charlie Fryett, whom she met while being treated for mental health problems.
Miss Johnson, who said she had a “breakdown” after her boyfriend ended their relationship and she was raped, said that she became closer to T-Man as Miss Fryett’s condition deteriorated.
She said: “The relationship with Charlie was breaking down after an episode where I had to take her to A&E following an overdose.”
Miss Johnson said she was aware that T-Man, who has never been arrested for his alleged role in the rioting, had been in prison but said she did not know what for.
“I was growing more affectionate towards him,” she said. “I fancied him a little bit. He was very kind, very supportive. I basically broke down in front of him. I told him about being suicidal, my ex-boyfriend and being raped. He listened to all that. He was a pillar of strength almost. He was trying to be a positive influence on me.
“I was very trusting of him. He replaced Charlie as my support system. He was the person I would talk to if I felt suicidal.”
But she claims on Aug 8, the night of the worst riots, he became aggressive and forced her to drive him and three friends around Greenwich and Woolwich helping them to make off with electrical equipment worth thousands of pounds.
She said that she did not protest because T-Man twice threatened her by putting his hands around her neck. She also said that another of the men had a knife which he had used to rob other looters and to threaten passers-by.
Asked why she did not demand they stop, she said that she felt shocked and terrified and “just zoned out”.
“I started to detach,” she said. “I pulled back from reality and went into my own little bubble. I wanted to go home. I said that I wanted to go home for different reasons, but I didn’t really care.
“I wasn’t handling it very well. I was so unsure of everything. I didn’t know where I was or how to get away. I kept saying 'I wanted to go home’. I thought 'I’m going to kill myself’. That was my safety net because I couldn’t handle the stress.”
Miss Johnson, of Orpington, denies burglary and handling stolen goods.
She admits she drove looters around London but claims she was under “duress”. The prosecution claims she was a willing participant.
Her 17-year-old co-defendant, who cannot be named, denies two burglary charges and two of handling stolen goods. He has pleaded guilty to one charge of burglary. A third man, Alexander Elliott Joahill, 18, has pleaded guilty to burglary and handling stolen goods.
The trial continues.