LONDON (Reuters) Former Culture Club frontman Boy George was sentenced on Friday to 15 months in jail after being found guilty last month of falsely imprisoning a Norwegian male escort.

Tried under his real name George O'Dowd, the 47-year-old Briton denied the charge of false imprisonment at his London flat in April, 2007. After his conviction on December 5, judge David Radford had warned him that he faced a prison term.

But the length of the sentence was a surprise to lawyers who had expected a term of around three months, or even a suspended sentence.

Shocked family members and friends in a packed courtroom at Snaresbrook Crown Court in east London gasped and broke down in tears after the sentence was read. O'Dowd, his head shaved and wearing a black coat and sweater, stared ahead impassively.

"This offence is so serious that only an immediate sentence of imprisonment can be justified for it," Radford said.

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