Keep the faith, George – you'll have your freedom in eight weeks

Former Wham! star jailed for crashing his car while under the influence of cannabis

The pop star George Michael will wake up this morning to a host of pun-laden headlines borrowing heavily from his back catalogue of hits, but also to the more serious matter of an eight-week prison sentence after he admitted crashing his Range Rover while high on drugs.

The former Wham! singer had previously admitted driving under the influence of cannabis after being found slumped unconscious in his vehicle, having crashed it into a north London branch of Snappy Snaps. Yesterday, he was told he would spend four weeks in prison and four on licence.

The 47-year-old sighed as the judge passed sentence. One fan sobbed in the public gallery of Highbury Corner magistrates' court as Michael was led to the cells.

It is the latest in a list of offences committed by the singer, who is famous for a host of No 1 singles including "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" and "Careless Whisper" (prime candidates to become Lock Me Up Before You Go-Go and Careless Spliffter in today's tabloids).

Most memorably, in 1998, he was arrested in Beverly Hills after "engaging in a lewd act" in a public toilet with an undercover police officer.

In 2006 and 2008, he was cautioned for possession of cannabis. In 2007, he pleaded guilty to driving while unfit through drugs. Then, he was banned from driving for two years and sentenced to 100 hours of community service. But yesterday, he was imprisoned.

The court heard that Michael – whose real name is Georgios Panayiotou – was arrested in Hampstead shortly before 4am on 4 July this year when two police officers found him apparently unconscious in his grey Range Rover. After being roused by an officer banging on his window, Michael got out of the car and was said to be sweating, breathing heavily, and had to be held up. When told he had crashed into a shop, he said: "No I didn't. I didn't crash into anything."

He was found in possession of two cannabis cigarettes. Tests later showed he was unfit to drive through drugs.

Michael admitted smoking a "small quantity" of cannabis at about 10pm the previous evening and said he also took a newly prescribed sedative to help him to sleep.

District Judge John Perkins told the singer: "It does not appear that you took proper steps to deal with what is clearly an addiction to cannabis. That's a mistake which puts you and, on this occasion, the public, at risk."

The District Judge said he took into account 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. In the public gallery, Michael's long-term partner, Kenny Goss, threw his head into his hands. The singer was also banned from driving for five years and was ordered to pay a £1,250 fine, £100 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Mukul Chawla, QC, mitigating, said that Michael personally repaid the cost of the damage to the shop owner and that he was ashamed and horrified at "having repeated the conduct of 2007".

Singing like jailbirds...

Johnny Cash

Champion of American jailbirds, playing some of the most famous concerts of all time in Folsom and San Quentin prisons. In his song "Man in Black", he sang of his trademark attire: "I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime, but is there because he's a victim of the times." Cash himself spent only a few days behind bars: three for smuggling amphetamines, as well as several other minor overnight stays, notably for trespassing on to private land to pick flowers.

Lindsay Lohan

Earlier this year, the 24-year-old Hollywood actress was jailed for 90 days after violating her probation on a 2007 drink-driving charge. Lohan served less than two weeks in an all-female jail in Los Angeles after spending time on probation, having pleaded guilty to drug charges and no-contest to three driving charges.

George Best

Almost as famous for the problems which blighted his personal life as for being – arguably – the greatest footballer of his generation, George Best spent Christmas 1984 behind bars after a conviction for drink-driving offences.

Paris Hilton

The heiress, singer and reality TV star spent three days of a 45-day sentence in prison in 2007 after violating probation on a drink-driving conviction. Released on medical grounds, she was kept under house arrest.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn