Stay off drugs, judges tell Winehouse's husband

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The Independent Culture

Singer Amy Winehouse's husband was urged by judges today to keep off the drugs which almost cost him his life.

Blake Fielder-Civil was encouraged to continue the progress he has been making in beating an addiction which landed him behind bars in a "life-threatening state".

The advice came from two judges in the Court of Appeal in London after they rejected his challenge to a total of 27 months' imprisonment imposed on him in July after admitting an offence of inflicting grievous bodily harm and for perverting the course of justice.

Although Fielder-Civil, 26, of Camden, north London, had not yet completed his sentence he was granted early release from prison on 5 November on condition that he resides at a rehabilitation unit in Surrey.

His QC argued today that the term of 27 months handed down at Snaresbrook Crown Court in east London was "manifestly excessive" and should have been no more than 21 months in the light of the personal mitigation in the case.

But Mr Justice Pitchford and the Recorder of Brighton and Hove, Judge Richard Brown, ruled that Fielder-Civil had no "justified complaint" against the length of the sentence.

Dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice Pitchford, said: "However, we will not leave the appeal without expressing encouragement to the appellant to continue with the progress that he has made in the short time between November 5 and today's hearing, since it is only if these attempts are successful that he has a worthwhile future."

During the hearing, Fielder-Civil's counsel, Jeremy Dein QC, said there were "very powerful" factors of personal mitigation in the case.

He told the judges that Fielder-Civil, a man with no previous convictions, but with a "long and wretched history of involvement with drugs and alcohol", suffered a "great ordeal while incarcerated for the first time" in Pentonville Prison on remand.

Mr Dein said: "He was often taunted, his mail was leaked to the press. He had wedding photographs stolen very soon after his arrival."

He arrived at prison "bedevilled by an addiction to drugs".

He added: "He was in a life-threatening state when he got there."

What happened to him in prison sent him "spiralling into deep depression".

But it was clear that he had since made "almost superhuman efforts" to rehabilitate himself and was "determined to beat" his addiction.

The court heard that the only condition of his release from prison was his residence at the Life Works rehab unit near Woking.

His date for release on licence would have been in December, as the nine months spent on remand counted towards the 27 months.

Fielder-Civil joined in a "vicious and one-sided" assault on publican James King while high on cocaine and alcohol, the Crown Court heard.

The victim suffered a broken cheekbone and was so badly beaten that he needed metal plates fitted to his face.

Fielder-Civil and his friend Michael Brown, who launched the attack in June 2006, tried to scupper a trial with a £200,000 pay-off to Mr King, the landlord of a pub in Hoxton, east London.

The plot was exposed when two middlemen approached a national newspaper.

Brown, of Carshalton, Surrey, also admitted causing grievous bodily harm and perverting the course of justice and was sentenced to 33 months.

Mr King pleaded not guilty to perverting the course of justice by allegedly joining in the cover-up and was cleared at his trial earlier this year.

Fielder-Civil said after losing his appeal today: "I am disappointed but not really surprised."

His wife did not attend the proceedings.