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London riots: Millionaire’s daughter accused of driving thieves about was in relationship with ex prisoner

A MILLIONAIRE’S daughter accused of driving looters around during last summer's riots had been having a relationship with one of the men in her car, a court heard today.

Laura Johnson, 20, had been going out with a man who had recently come out of prison, Inner London Crown Court was told.

Johnson, of Orpington, Kent, is accused of having driven thieves from place to place as the riots were taking place on August 8 last year.

She denies three counts of burglary and three alternative counts of handling stolen goods.

A female former friend of Johnson, Charlie Fryett, told the court that she herself had liked a man known as Sylar, or Emmanuel, whom she introduced to Johnson.

However they both drifted away from her and she thought it was because they were seeing each other, she said.

When she spoke to Johnson on the telephone on August 8, she could hear Sylar in the background.

Asked by Martin McCarthy, defending Johnson, if that made her upset, she said: "Yes, I felt betrayed that people were going behind my back again."

Ms Fryett said she knew that it was "pretty recent" that Sylar had come out of prison.

But she did not know what he had been in prison for.

Mr McCarthy said it was for offences committed in the Portsmouth area, possession of crack cocaine, intending to supply.

Ms Fryett said she did not know that, or that he had robbed.

Asked where he was now, she suggested: "In prison? I haven't been able to get hold of him on the number that I had, and I gave up last year."

The court has heard that Sylar and one of the looters, known as T-Man, were the same person, but Ms Fryett said she had never heard Sylar use that name.

She said she had first met Johnson at a psychiatric outpatient clinic a few months before the riots.

She confirmed to Mr McCarthy that Johnson had told her she had taken to harming herself, had taken an overdose and had felt, at times, like she did not want to be alive.

The prosecution has said that any talk of duress is no more than a "red herring" in the case.

It says that Johnson knew what she was doing, and did it for whatever reason seemed good to her at the time.

The court has heard that Johnson was seen to put a box marked Goodmans on the front seat of a black car she was driving at a retail park near the O2 leisure park in Greenwich, south-east London, a few minutes after midnight on August 9.

A man had thrown the box in a bush shortly before.

The man who saw the alleged incident, Raymond Johnson, who is no relation, called police.

Prosecutor Sandy Canavan has told the court: "He remembers seeing three black men running backwards and forwards to the car, putting things in it."

Mr Johnson followed the car, and at one point took a picture on his phone.

Later he was back in the same area, saw the car again and went over to speak to police who made arrests.

One man who ran off was not caught.

Johnson told police that three boys jumped into her car and told her where to go and what to do, Ms Canavan has said.

Johnson said in her defence case statement that there was talk of stabbing people, talk of a gun, and one man had been playing footage on a mobile phone of someone being tortured.

The jury has heard that Alexander Elliott-Joahill, 18, has pleaded guilty to burglaries and handling stolen goods.

A 17-year-old boy who is appearing with Johnson, who cannot be named, has admitted one count of burglary. He denies two further counts of burglary or handling stolen goods.