Mark Morrison escaped a second prison sentence last week when a charge of possessing an offensive weapon was thrown out “due to insufficient evidence”.
The 25-year-old UK soul star was at London’s Marylebone Magistrates’ Court on March 26 to face the charge of illegally carrying a two-foot long truncheon in his car. According to newspaper reports, Morrison ‘smirked’ as he was let off. Afterwards, the singer was taken back to prison, where he is beginning the 12-month sentence for sending an imposter to complete a community service order imposed on him for an earlier offence.
Earlier in the week, Leicester Crown Court heard that Morrison hatched the plan after he was given a 150-hour community service order for his part in a Leicester street brawl in February 1994 which left a student dead. He fled to Barbados and sent a lookalike friend to do work at a laundry at the Riverpoint Hostel in Shepherd’s Bush, London. The friend, Gabriel Mafereka, wore Morrison’s trademark sunglasses and a hat to hide his dreadlocks from probation service workers. He also travelled to and from work in Morrison’s Mercedes limousine and made sure not to turn up at the hostel when Morrison was performing on television or radio. Morrison’s ruse was eventually rumbled by the tabloid press.
Morrison had already faced jail in October 1996 when he first breached the order by completing only 42 hours, but he escaped with a 500 pounds fine on condition that he serve out the rest of the sentence.
Morrison, wearing a designer suit and gold jewellery, sat impassively in the Leicester dock after admitting his latest breach of the order. Judge Christopher Pitchers at Leicester Crown Court revoked the community service order to re-sentence him on the affray charge.
He told the star: “I regard that as showing an arrogant contempt for the order of the court. It’s quite clear that, having found the early part of the order an inconvenience, you used the power your position and means give you to use someone else.”
Defence barrister David Evans QC had pleaded with the judge to be lenient for the sake of saving Morrison’s flagging career, and said any significant amount of time in prison would be “devastating” to the star. He continued: “The truth is that he (Morrison) buckled under the pressure. He felt that he could not deal with the demands of his profession. It is apparent he began to drink quite heavily, and while there was talk of drugs, the real heart of the problem was alcohol which caused him to lose control on more than one occasion.”
Morrison was due to be sentenced last month but failed to attend the hearing – the ninth time in a month that he had done so. Last Monday (March 23) Morrison was banned from driving for six months and fined 1,380 pounds by Leicester magistrates for a string of motoring offences, including driving unsupervised despite being only a learner driver and already being banned.
A spokeswoman at Morrison’s record company Warners commented: “We’re standing by him. I just look forward to the day that Mark is back in the studio.”