George Michael jailed for drug-drive offence

LONDON Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:03pm EDT

British singer George Michael arrives at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court in London, September 14, 2010. REUTERS/Toby Melville

British singer George Michael arrives at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court in London, September 14, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - British singer George Michael was sentenced to eight weeks in jail on Tuesday for driving under the influence of cannabis when he crashed his car into a north London shop in July.

Michael, wearing a grey suit and black tie, sighed as judge John Perkins sentenced him at a London court, while his long-term partner Kenny Goss threw his head into his hands.

The singer was told he would serve four weeks in prison and spend the remainder on license.

"It does not appear that you took proper steps to deal with what is clearly an addiction to cannabis," Perkins told Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court.

"That's a mistake which puts you and, on this occasion, the public at risk," he was quoted by the Press Association as saying.

Perkins said he took into account the fact that Michael had checked into a clinic after the crash to seek help for anxiety, depression and insomnia, which had led him to depend on prescription drugs.

"I accept entirely that you have shown remorse for the offence, that you are ashamed of it, that you admitted it," he said, but added that a jail term was inevitable because of Michael's previous conviction.

Michael, 47, was also banned from driving for five years and was ordered to pay a 1,250 pound ($1,930) fine.

Mukul Chawla, Michael's lawyer, said his client considered the prospect of putting other people's lives in danger "appalling," and said he had tried to turn his life around since the incident and started writing songs again.

"For the first time in many years he has started writing again. His creativity, so long hampered by his drug dependence, is re-emerging."

A police patrol found the singer slumped at the wheel of his Range Rover in the early hours of July 4 after smashing into the facade of a photographic shop in Hampstead.

Michael was arrested and taken to Hampstead police station where he was found to be carrying cannabis cigarettes. A blood sample was taken and chemicals linked to cannabis were found in his system. He had not been drinking alcohol.

Michael, who became famous as part of the band Wham! before launching a successful solo career, was banned from driving for two years in 2007 and sentenced to 100 hours of community service after admitting driving when unfit due to drugs.

In 2008, Michael apologized to fans after being arrested and cautioned by police for possession of drugs and promised then to "sort himself out."

Grammy award winner Michael has sold an estimated 100 million albums as a solo artist, winning a global fan base with hits like "Careless Whisper" and "Faith."

(Writing by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)

FILED UNDER: