George Michael loses last-ditch bid for Freedom

HIGHGATE popstar George Michael failed in an 11th-hour bid to avoid being carted off to a prison cell this week, the Ham&High can reveal.

The singer was sentenced to eight weeks in jail on Tuesday for crashing his car into a Hampstead High Street shop while under the influence of a powerful concoction of cannabis and prescription drugs.

But less than hour after District Judge John Perkins ordered him to be taken away to the cells, Michael was back in court lodging an immediate appeal against the sentence his solicitor described as “manifestly excessive”.

With all of the other TV news crews and reporters all camped outside the rear gates of Highbury Corner Magistrates Court waiting for the 47-year-old former Wham! star to be driven off to prison, Michael was in Court Three applying for bail, which if granted, meant he would be able to leave by the front doors of court and spend the night at home.

Announcing the swift decision to appeal, his barrister Mukul Chawla said: “We will be submitting that the sentence imposed is manifestly excessive and in view of the circumstances of this case, not warranted.

“Our appeal is going to take a little time to organise and to list and the prospect is that much of the sentence will already have been served by the time an appeal is heard.

Addressing the judge he said: “I appreciate it is always very difficult when you have made the decision and you are now being told in effect that you got it wrong.

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“We say there are added factors in this case that give optimism for grounds of success and we submit that the matter can be fully ventilated on appeal.” But Judge Perkins dealt Michael a second blow by insisting he remain behind bars.

He said: “I have listened to the application for bail but I am not prepared to grant it in respect of this matter.

“You will therefore remain in custody and those who represent you can make an application to the crown court.”

On hearing this Michael, who was visibly angry, shook his head at his legal team and said ‘I told you’ as he was led away.

As the Ham&High went to press, a similar application for bail was expected to be lodged at the crown court.

Earlier, in front of a court room packed with members of the press and some loyal fans, prosecution barrister Jonathan Efemini told the court how Michael had been found by police slumped at the wheel of his Range Rover after he had ploughed it into Snappy Snaps at around 3.40am on July 4. He was “wide eyed and spaced out” and it took a while to rouse him, the court heard.

Michael admitted to the police he had smoked cannabis that evening and had taken sleeping pills, which had been prescribed to help anxiety and insomnia.

He was arrested and in July pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of drugs and possession of cannabis.

Mr Chawla told the court that Michael, who picked up a similar conviction for driving under the influence of drugs in 2007, felt “shame and horror”.

Sentencing Michael, Judge Perkins, accepted his remorse and gave credit for his guilty plea but said: “Despite the resources at your command it does not appear that you took proper steps to deal with what is clearly an addiction to cannabis.

“That was a mistake which puts you and the public at risk. I don’t find the mitigation in what is such a serious offence allows me to reduce imprisonment to a community sentence.”

Michael was told he must serve four weeks behind bars and then the remainder out on licence. He was also fined �1,250 for possession of cannabis and given a five-year driving ban. He has already visited Snappy Snaps in person to pay for the damage.