February 8, 2006

UK singer Doherty avoids jail over drug offences

LONDON (Reuters) - Babyshambles frontman Pete Doherty, who
had an on-off relationship with supermodel Kate Moss, escaped a
jail term on Wednesday over seven separate drug-related

The 26-year-old rocker, who had pleaded guilty to
possessing heroin and cocaine at a hearing last month, was
given a community service order for 12 months, requiring him to
attend a drug rehabilitation center and undergo monthly

"You must submit to treatment with a view to ending your
dependency on drugs," magistrate Ann McLaughlin told a
dishevelled and pale Doherty, who was dressed in a black jacket
and white shirt and wore a black crucifix.

She warned Doherty that if he broke the requirements of his
community service order he could be brought back before court
and sentenced to a term in prison. He is due to reappear in
court on March 8 for a review of the order.

Asked if he understood and agreed with the sentence, the
self-confessed drug abuser replied: "I do."

Around 40 journalists crammed into west London's Ealing
Magistrates Court to hear the verdict, and a small group of
fans in the public gallery burst into applause when the
sentencing was over.

Doherty left the court building more than an hour later to
be greeted by supporters and photographers.

During the hearing, his lawyer Sean Curran told the court
that Doherty had only been found with small amounts of illegal
drugs when apprehended by police on three separate occasions in
recent months.

He described the singer as a "very articulate and talented
man" who nevertheless had a "deep dependency on Class A drugs."

"The easy option is to pass a custodial sentence," Curran
said, but added that a jail term would leave him "vulnerable
and open to drug use."

"He wants to show willing. He wants to repay their (the
fans') loyalty and support by coming through this the other end
as a successful and talented musician."

Doherty, who shot to fame as lead singer of The Libertines,
has been in the headlines after Moss was filmed apparently
snorting cocaine, prompting several fashion labels to sever
ties with the 32-year-old supermodel.

Moss, who left the country shortly after the revelations in
the Daily Mirror tabloid in September and attended a drug
rehabilitation center in the United States, was questioned by
police on her return to Britain last week.

Media reports say she will not face any criminal action
although police are still investigating the men suspected of
supplying her with the drug.

Newspaper reports say Doherty and Moss have split up.