George Michael jailed for driving under influence of drugs

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A British court sentenced pop singer George Michael to eight weeks in jail on Tuesday after he admitted driving under the influence of cannabis when he crashed his car into a shop.

The 47-year-old "Freedom" and "Careless Whisper" star was arrested after his Range Rover car smashed into a photography shop in north London in the early hours of July 4.

Michael, who was charged under his real name Georgios Panayiotou, sighed as the sentence was announced and a fan sobbed in the public gallery of Highbury Magistrates Court in London as he was taken to the cells.

Judge John Perkins told the star he had taken a "dangerous and unpredictable mix" of prescription drugs and cannabis.

Perkins said Michael would serve four weeks in prison. After that he would be released and the remainder of the term would be spent under strict conditions. The court also slapped Michael with a five-year driving ban and a fine of 1,250 pounds (1,500 euros, 1,930 dollars).

Michael had admitted the driving offence at an earlier hearing in August. He also admitted possessing cannabis cigarettes.

He had arrived at the court on Tuesday wearing dark glasses and waving to fans, some of whom screamed his name and tried to burst through police barriers to reach him.

The singer was found by police slumped at the wheel of his Range Rover with the engine still running in the incident in July. Officers roused him and said he appeared "spaced out".

In June 2007, Michael was given a two-year driving ban after pleading guilty to driving while unfit. On that occasion, he claimed he was tired and had been taking prescription drugs.

The singer, who first found fame in 1980s pop group Wham!, has fought a long battle with drugs.

© 2010 AFP

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