September 04, 2006 12:10 PM

Rocker Pete Doherty escaped a prison sentence Monday … for now.

A judge told Kate Moss’s on-again lover that his sentence for five drug offenses was deferred until Dec. 4. But the Babyshambles singer will have to appear in court again on Oct. 18 for a review of his drug tests.

The court had heard that three tests taken by Doherty between Aug. 21-27 had all proved negative for heroin and cocaine.

“A custodial sentence of two to six months would be totally counterproductive,” Magistrate Jane McIvor said. “It would undo all the very hard work by the professionals and yourself.”

“Do you mean I have to go back to the Priory?” said Doherty, referring to the outer-London rehab clinic in which he’s been receiving treatment over the past month.

“Yes,” McIvor said.

“What would happen if the Priory won’t let me back in?” Doherty asked. His lawyer, Sean Curran, motioned for Doherty to sit down, telling the judge, “I’ll explain the details to him later.”

Doherty, dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and discretely striped tie, appeared alert during the 25-minute hearing, making eye contact with individuals in court, including a dozen-strong posse of fans. At times he rested his chin on his hand as he listened to his lawyer describe his progress in rehab.

“When he’s getting treatment and his drug usage has stopped he can put on very good performances,” Curran told the court, referring to a gig Babyshambles played on London’s Clapham Common on Aug. 27.

” ‘The Blinding’ is a very good tune,” McIvor said from the bench, referring to Doherty’s new song, supposedly about his treatment in the press. “But I’m not sure about the words.”

“I just want my life back,” Doherty told PEOPLE outside the courtroom. He told other reporters he had “mixed feelings” about the proceedings before a minder whisked him through a scrum of photographers to a waiting BMW limo.

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