George Michael gets 100 hours' community service

LONDON (Reuters) - Singer George Michael was banned from driving for two years and sentenced to 100 hours of community service on Friday after admitting driving when unfit due to drugs.

Police had found the 43-year-old slumped behind the wheel of his Mercedes at a road junction in London in October.

Michael, wearing a charcoal grey suit and black t-shirt for his sentencing, had told the court he felt “very ashamed.”

But outside court he attacked media coverage of the case which he said had been “farcical.”

It had concentrated almost entirely on the prosecution’s allegations, he told a phalanx of reporters and fans outside Brent Magistrates’ Court in North London.

The prosecution had contended that he had a cocktail of both legal and illegal drugs in his system.

“In reality I have been sentenced today on the basis of unfit driving through tiredness and prescription medicines which I fully accept responsibility for.

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“I am glad to put this behind me and I am now off to do the biggest show of my life.”

Michael is to play the first pop concerts at London’s newly rebuilt Wembley stadium on Saturday and Sunday.

The singer, who has houses in London and Texas, has said he might quit Britain to escape the relentless media attention on his private life.

He has admitted to a dependency on prescription drugs, has called marijuana much less harmful than alcohol and says he has developed a very self-destructive streak since the death of his mother a decade ago.

“I have started thinking for the first time in my life that actually I shouldn’t be living here,” he said last month.

Reflecting on the intense media coverage, Michael added: “I have got to think seriously about whether or not my love for my country is keeping me somewhere which is not good for me.”

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The singer blamed his behavior on the death of his mother Lesley in 1997, saying: “I have a very self-destructive tendency since my mother died. I have got to be honest.”

Michael, who has sold more than 80 million records with hits such as “Careless Whisper,” infuriated mental health charities last year by smoking a cannabis joint during a television interview and saying “This stuff keeps me sane and happy.”

Unrepentant, he said: “We could sit here with any number of policemen and doctors and they would all tell you if everybody who had a dependence on alcohol changed their mind and had a dependence on weed, the world would be a much easier place to live in.”

Michael ended years of speculation about his sexuality by announcing he was gay after he was arrested in 1998 for engaging in a “lewd act” in a Los Angeles public toilet.