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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Broken Boy George signs autographs for fellow inmates inside his prison cell

By Liz Thomas

Overweight and with a 15-month sentence of confinement stretching out before him, this is Boy George in his prison cell.

The troubled singer sits on a bed, writing autographs for the trickle of curious fellow inmates who have demanded them.

The forlorn figure he cuts is a world away from the outrageously-attired pop star who had hits such as Karma Chameleon with Culture Club in the 1980s.

Boy George

Sentenced: Boy George signs autographs for his fellow inmates at Pentonville Prison

Now 47, he is using his real name of George O'Dowd during his term at Pentonville in North London.

O'Dowd, who has battled drug addiction, was jailed on Friday for imprisoning and beating a rent boy at his home.

It is understood there is extra security to protect the singer who has said he fears being attacked in prison because he is gay.

It has also been reported that his cell-mate has been asked to take care of him.

O'Dowd has landed a £6-a-week job as a kitchen worker serving food to other inmates, which is regarded as one of the easier tasks in prison.

The judge accused O'Dowd of 'gratuitous violence' when he sentenced him last week after hearing how he shackled rent boy Audun Carlsen to a wall of his flat and lashed him with a chain while shouting insults at him.

The 29-year-old Norwegian managed to free himself and fled in his underpants into the street, screaming for help.

Condemning his 'premeditated', 'callous' and drug-fuelled frenzy which 'traumatised' Mr Carlsen, the judge said his victim had been 'deprived of his liberty and his human dignity'.

He said the offence was 'so serious that only an immediate sentence of imprisonment can be justified'.

Boy George

Heyday: The culture club star

O'Dowd's own barrister admitted that his client's career had hit rock bottom and likened the behaviour of the two men to 'two drug-crazed idiots'.

The singer, who has battled drug addictions, has repeatedly denied swinging the chain at the younger man.

He did not give evidence in court - his brother David O'Dowd said it was because he did not want to cause further upset to his elderly mother.

At the height of Culture Club's success in the early 1980s, the star was one of the most recognisable artists in the world.

The group had a string of hits including Do You Really Want to Hurt Me? and Karma Chameleon and sold millions of records.

His career faltered after his heroin addiction was exposed, but he made a comeback in the 1990s, having reinvented himself as a DJ.

In 2006, he again hit the headlines when he admitted falsely reporting a burglary at this apartment in the U.S.

He was ordered to clear litter from the streets in New York as part of his community service.