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George Michael jailed over car crash

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 14 September 2010

The singer George Michael has been jailed for eight weeks after admitting crashing his car into a shop while under the influence of cannabis. Reporter Katie Razzall said the singer showed no emotion as he was sent to prison.

George Michael arrives at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court for sentencing after pleading guilty to possessing cannabis and driving under the influence of drugs at an earlier hearing. (Credit: Getty)

Michael, whose real name is Georgios Panayiotou, was sentenced by District Judge John Perkins at Highbury Corner magistrates.

However he will only serve four weeks in prison before being released to spend the rest of his sentence on licence.

The 47-year-old was also banned from driving for five years and ordered to pay a fine of £1,250 and costs of £100.

Channel 4 News reporter Katie Razzall, who was in court said the singer showed no emotion as he was sentenced.

"The grey-suited singer barely reacted, rubbing his nose once, his eyes shining fiercely. The sound of one of his fans sobbing loudly in the public gallery behind us filled the courtroom.

Georgios Panayiotou had earlier told the judge he'd rather be referred to by his stage name, George Michael. And it was by that name, "Mr Michael", that the judge told him his "serious offence" meant he had to go to prison.

He was then led past me to awaiting police officers who took him out of court.

Outside the court fans had tried to break through a security barriers as the singer arrived, dressed in a charcoal suit with a black tie.

Michael had been found slumped at the wheel of his Range Rover after it ploughed into a branch of Snappy Snaps in Hampstead during the early hours of 4 July.

Officers found two cannabis cigarettes on the singer. Tests on a blood sample showed he had chemicals linked to the drug in his system.

District Judge Perkins told Michael he had taken a "dangerous and unpredictable mix" of prescription drugs and cannabis.

"I accept entirely that you have shown remorse for the offence, that you are shamed of it, that you admitted it."

But he said a jail term was inevitable because of Michael's previous conviction.

The hearing had been told how Michael had also been convicted of driving while unfit through drugs after he was found collapsed in his Mercedes in October 2006.

George Michael had shot to stardom as a member of Wham! and later a solo artist, who sold more than 100 million records and picked up 11 UK number one singles, with songs such as Careless Whisper and Faith.

He also had seven number ones in the US.

But music writer Lucy O'Brien told Channel 4 News that Michael had struggled to adapt to the changing music industry.

"It is really sad because he is a major artist and a major talent. But it does seem he has kind of lost his way since the 1990s<" she said.

"The music industry has completely changed now. It is much more fragmented, it is not the same.

"Boy George has had problems adjusting.

"George Michael had massive success in the 1980s, but since then and his dispute with Sony in the early 1990s he has found it really hard to find his way back."

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