Double trouble for ‘cocky’ Bieber


Toronto/Miami Beach - Teen pop star Justin Bieber, facing charges in the United States and Canada, had pot and anti-anxiety medication in his system when arrested in Florida last week but told police his mother “takes care” of his prescriptions, according to official reports released on Thursday.

Bieber was charged late on Wednesday with assaulting a limousine driver in Toronto and the Toronto Star newspaper reported on Thursday that the driver in the alleged assault in December quit his job “in shock” following the incident.

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Justin Bieber arrives at a police station in Toronto on January 29, 2014. Bieber was mobbed by screaming fans and journalists as he entered the building. Picture: Alex Urosevic

As his legal troubles mounted, camera crews and fans were camped outside a downtown Toronto hotel where they thought the 19-year-old Canadian was holed up. He made no appearances and his representatives declined to comment.

The Boyfriend singer has had a turbulent year with scuffles with paparazzi in London and a felony investigation into whether he pelted a neighbour's house with eggs. The charges over the last week now put Bieber at risk of serving jail time.

On Thursday, a report by the Miami-Dade Office of the State Attorney said Bieber had marijuana and prescription medication for anxiety in his system when he was arrested in Miami Beach.

The preliminary report did not detail the amount of marijuana and alprazolam, better known as the anti-anxiety medication Xanax, that Bieber had in his system. Police have said he failed a field sobriety test after they had caught him allegedly drag racing on January 23.

Bieber has pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence, resisting arrest without violence and driving on an expired licence. If convicted, he could face up to six months in jail, although a maximum penalty is unlikely because it would be his first offense.

The singer, who is under the US legal drinking age of 21, also had a minimal amount of alcohol in his system but had difficulty performing a breathalyser test, police said in an affidavit.

Bieber also said he did not know what kind of anxiety medication he'd taken as he did not know what he was prescribed.

“Well, my mom takes care of all that stuff for me,” Bieber told police, according to the affidavit.

In the field sobriety test report, police said that Bieber had the odour of alcohol on his breath, bloodshot eyes and a flushed face. His attitude was profane, insulting and cocky.

Bieber's highest blood-alcohol content during the four tests administered was 0.014, below the 0.02 legal limit for those under 21 in Florida. The limit for drivers 21 and over is 0.08.

Police said Bieber “continuously forgot basic instructions”, and they believed he was purposefully not taking the test correctly. He performed the breathalyser exam correctly only after police told him he would lose his licence if he “refused” the test, according to the affidavit.

When told he “reeked” of marijuana, Bieber said: “Yeah, we were smoking all night at the studio.”

The Toronto assault charge stems from an incident in the early hours of December 30 when Bieber and five others were picked up outside a Toronto nightclub. His Canadian lawyer said in a statement that Bieber is innocent.

Police alleged the driver was struck on the back of the head several times on the way to a hotel. Bieber left the scene before police arrived, they alleged in a statement.

Tony Albert, the manager of Park Lane Livery limousines, which operated the limo, told the Toronto Star the driver quit his job shortly after the incident.

The driver is “in shock”.

“Something like this does not happen in Toronto,” Albert told the newspaper. He declined to disclose his identity on the advice of legal counsel.

An employee at the company told Reuters that Albert was not immediately available to confirm the report.

“We do club runs every weekend in Toronto - even with the drunkies we never faced this kind of problem, the driver getting physically assaulted in the head,” he said.

Bieber was charged after appearing at a Toronto police station late on Wednesday, arriving in a black SUV and met by a crowd of journalists and screaming fans.

An assault conviction in Canada has a maximum sentence of five years, but experts doubted the maximum would be imposed.

Bieber's legal team said they expect the matter will be treated as a summary offence, which is the equivalent of a misdemeanour in the United States.

The singer had at least one defender on Thursday who knows something about negative attention: fellow Canadian and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

Ford, who has become a staple of late-night comics since he admitted in November that he had smoked crack cocaine while in a “drunken stupor”, defended Bieber on Thursday during an interview on a Washington, DC, radio show called Sports Junkies.

“Well, you know what, he's a young guy,” said Ford. “He's 19 years old, guys. Think back to when you were 19.” - Reuters

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