Suspended sentence means Doherty is one offence away from a jail term

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The Independent Online

The threat of prison loomed over the troubled rock singer Pete Doherty yesterday when he was given a suspended jail sentence for a string of drugs and motoring offences.

The Babyshambles frontman was given a four-month custodial sentence suspended for two years. District Judge Davinder Lachhar also gave him an 18-month supervision order and a 12-month drug rehabilitation order at West London magistrates' court in Hammersmith. She also ordered that the singer pay a £400 fine for driving with no insurance and a £75 fine for having no MOT certificate.

The self-destructive former boyfriend of the model Kate Moss has been arrested by the police for drugs offences on so many occasions that his record company, Rough Trade, suggested that he was the subject of police harassment. The Metropolitan Police countered that the reason he kept drawing their attention was that he continues to commit offences.

On the latest occasion, Doherty, 28, a drug addict, had pleaded guilty to possession of crack cocaine, heroin, ketamine and cannabis, as well as to a number of driving offences, after being arrested by police while driving a Jaguar in High Street Kensington, west London, at about 10pm on 5 May. Officers had found the substances on his person and in the car.

Fans of Doherty were not downhearted by the sentence, packing the public gallery and cheering him as he left the court. Asked if he was pleased at the outcome, Doherty replied: "Eh, you must be joking."

At an earlier hearing, Doherty had been warned that if he did not kick his habit he could be sent to prison. But earlier this month he was granted extra time for an after-care drugs rehabilitation plan. Judge Lachhar agreed to an adjournment on hearing that Doherty had tested negative for drugs throughout a six-week residential drugs treatment programme and wanted to "give himself a chance" to recover, his lawyer, Sean Curran, said.

Over the past year, Doherty has made several appearances in court over drug offences. In April, he was praised by a judge in east London for "more than co-operating" in the struggle to beat his addiction.

Doherty, who launched Babyshambles after he was thrown out of The Libertines for his heroin habit, has spoken frankly about his battle with drugs, insisting: "It is this myth that drugs can add to creative talent ... I think my songwriting suffers for doing stuff".

But he is rarely out of the spotlight over his erratic behaviour, from drug and driving offences to rows with his famous ex, who has had her own publicity problems concerning drug use.

The film-maker Roger Pomphrey, who spent 11 months following Doherty for a documentary, has spoken about how the singer is followed 24 hours a day by paparazzi. Pomphrey explained the fascination with Doherty saying: "We all love a car crash", but added: "Pete is actually an extremely articulate and intelligent man."

Last year, Doherty's mother Jackie, a nurse, published a memoir about her painful experience of having a drug-addicted son. In Pete Doherty: My Prodigal Son, she said that the singer was "a happy soul" who "dreads going to prison".