Boy George jailed for beating escort

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The Independent Online

Boy George was jailed for 15 months today for handcuffing a male escort to a wall and beating him with a metal chain.

The 47-year-old former Culture Club singer, whose real name is George O'Dowd, imprisoned Audun Carlsen during a drug-fuelled naked photoshoot at his flat in Shoreditch, east London.

Sentencing the musician at Snaresbrook Crown Court in east London, Judge David Radford told him he was guilty of "gratuitous violence".

The judge condemned his "premeditated", "callous", and "degrading" drug-fuelled actions which "traumatised" his victim.

The judge added: "He was denied his dignity."

Mr Carlsen, a 29-year-old Norwegian, fled in his underpants and alerted police after the attack in April 2007.

Violence had flared after O'Dowd accused Mr Carlsen of stealing photos of himself from a laptop, taken when the pair met three months earlier.

O'Dowd has previous convictions for going equipped for theft as a juvenile in 1977, and a Class B drugs offence 10 years later.

He was given community service in New York in 2006 after pleading guilty to falsely reporting a burglary at his apartment in the city.

O'Dowd, who was convicted of false imprisonment last year, denied performing unprotected oral sex on Mr Carlsen as he sat naked in a chair during the first meeting.

He had told police: "I've never slept with someone who is HIV positive."

The pair had made contact on the Gaydar website.

According to prosecutor Heather Norton, their first meeting went well until the singer suspected Mr Carlsen of hacking in to his computer.

They parted on good terms and O'Dowd paid the younger man £300 of the £400 they had agreed.

In the weeks which followed, they exchanged emails in which the singer accused Mr Carlsen of hacking into his computer.

But he eventually said that he wanted to see the younger man again.

During the second meeting, things took a violent turn.

After calling Mr Carlsen into his bedroom, O'Dowd and another man leapt on him, wrestled him to the floor and started beating him.

O'Dowd, who did not give evidence in his defence, was screaming: "F****** whore! Now you are going to get what you deserve."

Mr Carlsen was dragged along the floor towards O'Dowd's bed and a manacle was put on his right hand and attached to a hook drilled in the wall.

The second man left, Mr Carlsen said, and O'Dowd fetched a plastic box containing chains, sex toys and leather straps.

Mr Carlsen told the court he was able to unscrew the hook from the wall using handcuffs as a tool.

He ran to the door with O'Dowd pursuing him, lashing out with a metal chain.

The victim managed to escape and ran out into the street screaming for help.

O'Dowd previously suggested that bruises Mr Carlsen sustained could have been due to the fact he was HIV positive.

O'Dowd's brother David claimed today that the singer did not give evidence to protect his mother.

He told the Daily Mirror that the singer told him: "I know the likelihood is I am going to go to prison but I couldn't do it, for mum's sake. She's dying."

Blank-faced O'Dowd glanced briefly at family members in the public gallery, who gasped as his jail term was read out.

Passing sentence, Judge Radford said: "Whilst I accept that Mr Carlsen's physical injuries were not serious or permanent, in my view there can be no doubt that your premeditated callous and humiliating handcuffing and detention of Mr Carlsen shocked, degraded and traumatised him.

"He was deprived of his liberty and human dignity without warning or proper explanation to him of its purpose, length or purported justification."

The judge also ordered O'Dowd to pay £5,000 costs.

He said he had considered pleas by O'Dowd's lawyer to impose a non-custodial sentence but the offence was "so serious that only an immediate sentence of imprisonment can be justified for it".

Returning to the details of the case, he added: "You assaulted the victim of this offence whom you had invited into your home by handcuffing him to your bed and inflicting on him additional wholly gratuitous violence beyond that needed merely to secure physical restraint and detention."

There were emotional scenes outside court as family members and supporters of the pop star reacted to his sentence.

One male family member kicked one of the courtroom doors, shouting: "Fifteen months!"

Speaking after the case, O'Dowd's solicitor, Steven Barker, said: "George is on the road to recovery, I sincerely hope this sentence does not knock him back.

"But until I see him next week I just can't say."