Boy George sentenced to 15 months in jail

Friends and family "shocked" by verdict

LONDON -- Former Culture Club frontman Boy George was sentenced today to 15 months in jail after being found guilty last month of falsely imprisoning Norwegian male escort Audun Carlsen, whom he met over the Internet.

Tried under his real name George O'Dowd, the 47-year-old Briton denied a charge of false imprisonment at his London flat in April, 2007. After the jury ruled against him, judge David Radford had warned him that he faced a prison term.

However, the length of the sentence was a surprise as lawyers had expected a jail term of around three months. "This offense is so serious that only an immediate sentence of imprisonment can be justified for it," Radford said.

"Taking into account the aggravating and such mitigating factors as there are, the sentence of the court is one of 15 months imprisonment."

O'Dowd remained calm as he stood in the dock, but the verdict clearly shocked friends and family, some of whom burst into tears.

The singer had told police he had invited Carlsen back to his home after a cocaine-fueled pornographic photo shoot in January 2007, because he suspected the Norwegian of stealing pictures from his computer.

During the two-week trial, Carlsen countered that the singer had handcuffed him to a wall and beaten him with a chain because he was angry he had refused to sleep with him when they first met. O'Dowd did not give evidence during the trial.

Snaresbrook Court in east London heard Carlsen describe how he sustained injuries during their meeting in April 2007, from being beaten and handcuffed. O'Dowd's lawyer said the injuries were consistent with bondage gear the Norwegian had worn.

O'Dowd has struggled with drug problems, and in 2006 was sentenced to do community service in New York after admitting to falsely reporting a burglary. Police responding to his call found 13 bags of cocaine in his apartment.

His lawyer said it was likely that he would spend six or seven months behind bars, and declined to say whether O'Dowd would launch an appeal.
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