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The BBC's Kim Camberg
"The actor has a lengthy list of performing credits"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 18 July, 2001, 18:12 GMT 19:12 UK
Downey Jr escapes jail
Robert Downey Jr
Drug problems have dogged Downey's career
Actor Robert Downey Jr has been sentenced to a year's live-in drug rehabilitation and three years' probation after pleading no contest to drug charges.

The sentence, passed at a Californian court on Monday, will effectively keep the actor - who was nominated for an Emmy last week for his role in Ally McBeal - out of prison.

Robert Downey Jr
Downey won a Screen Actors Guild award for best actor in January

He will also have to pay a series of fines and was ordered to comply with a set of regulations including random drug testing.

The charges related to Downey Jr's arrest at an hotel in Palm Springs in November, three months after his release from a year-long jail term.

Downey Jr pleaded no contest to one count of cocaine possession and one count of being under the influence. A third charge was dropped.

But Superior Court Judge Randall White warned Downey Jr that he could go to prison for up to four years if he violated the terms of his probation.

The actor replied: "I'm well aware, your honour."

Career

Downey Jr has been in a residential drug treatment programme since a second arrest - without charge - in April in Los Angeles.

Police arrested the star in a back alley on suspicion of drug use while on parole.

Robert Downey Jr
Downey Jr following his April arrest

A urine sample later tested positive for cocaine but no prosecution was ever brought.

Following his release from prison, Downey Jr's career looked to be picking up as he landed a regular role on hit comedy Ally McBeal - even winning a Screen Actors Guild award for best actor.

But his arrest in April proved a headache for a scriptwriters as they were forced to rewrite the season ending.

Producers have denied the actor was sacked from the show but it is unclear whether he will be allowed to return.

Downey Jr has had repeated problems with drugs and the law.

In 1996, police found cocaine, heroin and a pistol in his vehicle after he was stopped by police for speeding.

A month later, he was found passed out in a neighbour's house and was hospitalised at a substance abuse treatment centre.

In August 1999 Downey Jr was sentenced to three years in prison for violating his probation by skipping scheduled drug tests, but was released a year later on bail.

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See also:

31 May 01 | Showbiz
Downey Jr 'avoids prison'
24 May 01 | Showbiz
Downey Jr back in court
25 Apr 01 | Showbiz
Downey Jr's drug-hit career
15 May 01 | Showbiz
No charge for Downey Jr
27 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
Ally creator 'furious' at Downey Jr
15 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Downey Jr signs McBeal deal
29 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Downey Jr arrest boosts ratings
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