Why did Boy George go to prison? What did singer do, when was he arrested and what crime was he convicted of?

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The Culture Club singer has described his time in prison as ‘life changing’

Boy George finished fourth in this year’s series of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. The pop singer best known for his time fronting Culture Club with hits such as “Karma Chameleon” and “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” joined a host of contestants in the Australian jungle including West Suffolk MP and former Health Secretary Matt Hancock and rugby player and Royal-in-law Mike Tindall.

However, ITV faced backlash over Boy George’s place in the lineup due to his past conviction and time in jail. The 61-year-old described the experience as “life changing”, but in an interview with the Daily Mirror, his victim, Norwegian model and male escort Audun Carlsen said “Had I been a woman and he did what he did, he would never have been given the platform”.

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The singer was rumoured to be one of the highest paid stars ever on the show, with LondonWorld reporting he received a whopping fee of £500,000 for his time in the jungle. Only Kaitlyn Jenner received a similar sum when she starred in the UK series in 2019.

So, why did Boy George go to prison, what was he convicted of and how long did he serve in jail? Here’s everything you need to know.

Who is Boy George?

Boy George is an English singer and songwriter best known for being the lead singer of the 1980s pop group Culture Club. The 61-year-old was born in Kent in 1961 and was raised in a working-class Irish family in Eltham alongside his four siblings.

Boy George stars in ITV’s I’m a Celebrity 2022 (Pic: ITV)Boy George stars in ITV’s I’m a Celebrity 2022 (Pic: ITV)
Boy George stars in ITV’s I’m a Celebrity 2022 (Pic: ITV) | ITV

His real name is George Alan O’Dowd, he adopted the stage name Boy George when he began performing with the Culture Club in 1981, some of their best known hit songs including: “Karma Chameleon”, “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” and “Time (Clock of the Heart)”.

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After leaving the band Boy George went on to enjoy a solo career, releasing hit singles including “Everything I Own” and “To Be Reborn”. Following on from his singing career he has made TV appearances on The Voice UK and The Voice Australia, launched his own clothing line called B Rude in 2005 and regularly attends fashion events around the world.

Why did Boy George go to prison?

Boy George was convicted of assault and false imprisonment in 2009. The singer handcuffed Norwegian model and male escort Audun Carlsen to a wall and beat him with a metal chain. He told the jury he was only able to get free after breaking the fixture.

In an interview with the Daily Mirror Carlsen described what happened: “He said he wanted to get milk. I heard him talking, I thought it was a neighbour. Then he asked me to come to the bedroom and there he was with another man.

“They jumped on me, kicked, dragged me along the floor. He handcuffed me to the wall and told the man to go, saying he’d deal with me from now on. The guy was there for 20 minutes. I was hooked to the wall for about half an hour. I was s*** scared.”

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He added: “Had I been a woman and he did what he did, he would never have been given the platform. It’s hurtful that big organisations like ITV give him that platform.”

Boy George denied the charge and claimed that Carlsen had hacked his laptop and stolen pictures. The singer admitted to handcuffing him to the wall while he tried to find his property.

Boy George arriving at Saresbrook Crown Court to face sentencing in 2009 (Pic: Getty Images)Boy George arriving at Saresbrook Crown Court to face sentencing in 2009 (Pic: Getty Images)
Boy George arriving at Saresbrook Crown Court to face sentencing in 2009 (Pic: Getty Images) | Getty Images

It’s not the first time that he has been in trouble with the law, in 2006 he was sentenced to community service after pleading guilty to making a false police report about a burglary at his New York apartment.

In 2017, he discussed the incident on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, breaking down he said: “I sent myself to prison. I told police why I did what I did. I was having a psychotic episode.

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“I was a drug addict so I can’t say my reasons for doing it were founded in any way. But I told the truth. I have always denied beating the guy.”

How much time did he serve?

Boy George was sentenced to 15 months in jail but was released with an ankle monitor after four months due to good behaviour. While on release he requested permission to be a contestant on the final series of Celebrity Big Brother.

Reported by The Guardian, the request was refused by his judge, who said at the time: “An offender serving the non-custodial part of a sentence of imprisonment should not be allowed to take part in a high profile, controversial television production, promoting his status as a celebrity and with considerable financial gain.”

What has Boy George said about his time in prison?

Boy George spoke about his time in prison in an interview with Reader’s Digest. He described the experience as “life changing” adding: “I always maintained that jail would finish me off, but it didn’t. You somehow find the strength. I feel I came out of that situation with some wisdom and knowledge. I really don’t view that period in my life as negative… but I wouldn’t want to go back.”

During his time in the jungle, campmate Scarlette Douglas brought up his jail stint and court case, in which George responded it was “inappropriate” for the presenter to mention it.

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