In the wake of the riots in London in August of last year I wrote two articles for Broowaha readers, correcting some highly inaccurate and politically motivated misinformation being peddled here about ‘deprivation’ and government ‘cuts.’ (Shopping with Violence, August 9; England Shamed, August 14). The essential point was that the disorders had nothing to do with poverty or non-existent cuts and everything to do with greed. They also had much to do with the adrenalin rush that some obtain from violence as violence.
In England Shamed I touched on the tale of two cities, the tale of two Londoners. One was an old Jewish barber in his late eighties whose one-man business was trashed by a gang of thugs. The other was a student by the name of Laura Johnson. Of her I wrote;
My second is Laura Johnson, a 19-year-old student. She does not live in Tottenham; oh, no, she is the daughter of a millionaire whose gated home, complete with tennis court, is in opulent Orpington. What on earth is the relevance of this spoiled little rich girl to the story of Biber the Barber? Simply this: he is a victim of a riot; she is an alleged rioter. She has been charged with driving away in a car containing stolen televisions, mobile phones, cigarettes and alcohol, all at an estimated value of $8000. Is if fair to ask if daddy was keeping her short in her allowance? Was she a victim of the government’s heartless cuts? Was she outraged by the condition of the hungry proletariat? I’ll leave you to make up your own minds.
Johnson, a student at Exeter University and a former school prefect, was later charged with burglary and handling stolen goods, having chauffeured several accomplices around that night for a spot of mayhem and rapine.
Last Friday, now aged twenty, her trial concluded at London’s Inner Crown Court. She was sentenced to two years imprisonment, after her defence that she had acted under ‘duress’ was rejected. Hardly surprising, when one considers her ‘duress’ was such that when her car was intercepted by the police she put her foot on the accelerator, despite the fact that an officer was standing in front of the vehicle.
In passing sentence, Judge Patricia Lees said that “Your actions added to the overall lawlessness that threatened to overwhelm the forces of law and order…You were pivotal to this planned criminal enterprise. You went out willingly that night knowing what you were about to get involved in.”
It was a moment of madness, her lawyer said. Yes, a moment of madness in a summer of madness; a moment of madness in which she drove round her friend, one Emmanuel Okubote, a convicted cocaine dealer and thief, and others dressed in mufti, robbing stores and robbing other looters at knife point. Mummy and daddy were in court to see the aftermath, looking down from the public gallery, to share in their daughter’s shame. Except I'm not sure that there was any shame, not after she left the dock grinning
I do hope people will remember Laura and her moment of madness whenever some clot or other tries to seduce them with a lot of meretricious sociologese about crime and deprivation.