George Michael seeks fresh start after jail release

11th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

British pop star George Michael said Monday he wanted to "start again" after his release from a four-week stint in prison for crashing his car into a shop while under the influence of cannabis.

The 47-year-old "Freedom" singer was jailed on September 14 after his Range Rover smashed into a photography shop in north London in July, the latest in a long line of brushes with the law.

"I'm coming out here on my own so that you'll realise I just want to start again," Michael told reporters outside his north London home, hours after his release from Highpoint Prison in Suffolk, eastern England.

He said it was "fantastic" to be free and that it was a "beautiful day."

"I just want to say thank you for everybody who has supported me in there, it's quite inspirational," he added.

Michael, whose real name is Georgios Panayiotou, served half of an eight-week sentence imposed by a judge. He will be under strict conditions for the remaining four weeks.

He has also been banned from driving for five years and was forced to pay fines and costs worth 1,365 pounds (1,561 euros, 2,177 dollars).

The singer -- who first found fame in 1980s pop group Wham! and has gone on to sell more than 100 million records worldwide -- has fought a long battle with drugs.

In June 2007, Michael was given a two-year driving ban after pleading guilty to driving while unfit the previous October, when he was found collapsed in his Mercedes.

In 1998 he was fined after making lewd advances to an undercover male police officer in a public toilet in Beverly Hills, California -- an incident he poked fun at in the video for his hit "Outside."

© 2010 AFP

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