A French court has convicted fashion designer John Galliano of anti-Semitic behaviour and handed him a suspended sentence over his series of drunken outbursts in a Paris bar.

The court in the French capital handed out a $8,400 suspended fine for two incidents, in February this year and October 2010.

The decision means the fine goes on Galliano's criminal record but that he does not have to pay it.

He was, however, ordered to pay $23,200 in court fees for the complainants, three individuals and five anti-racism associations, plus a symbolic $1.40 (one euro) in damages to each one.

The court explained its relatively lenient decision with Galliano's lack of criminal convictions, his previous regard for respect and tolerance and the treatment for drug and alcohol addiction he has sought since his arrest.

Galliano, who was sacked from his role as head of fashion house Dior over the affair, has rarely been seen in public since his appearance before a Paris courthouse last June, where he spoke in a tiny voice about his triple addiction to alcohol, sleeping pills and tranquilisers.

"Despite the triple addiction from which he was suffering, he was lucid enough to be conscious of his acts," Anne-Marie Sauteraud, the tribunal president, said, in reading out the court's decision on Thursday.

She said Galliano had told the court he would have wanted to be present for the verdict, but did not attend to avoid another confrontation with the press.

The damage to Galliano's status and image as a global fashion icon was enough to appease Geraldine Bloch, one plaintiff in the case, her lawyer Yves Beddouk told the Reuters news agency.

"She saw a man who was destroyed physically, a sick man," Beddouk said.

"For her and for me, this is already in the past, he has already been stripped of his status as an icon and that is the real punishment."

Icon's fall

After 15 critically acclaimed and commercially successful years at Dior, the flamboyant Briton's brilliant career flamed out after a couple alleged he accosted them while they were having a drink at Paris' chic La Perle cafe on February 24.

Another woman soon came forward with similar claims about a separate incident in the same cafe.

Days later, the British tabloid the Sun posted a video showing a visibly drunk Galliano insulting a fellow cafe client, slurring: "I love Hitler.''

The damage to his reputation as a leading figure in the world of high fashion has been brutal, with peers such as Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld and US actress Natalie Portman condemning his behaviour in public.

It has cost him his job as top designer of Dior and his stake in a franchise named after him.

Galliano is reported to have been through two rehabilitation programmes in Arizona and Switzerland.

The announcement of Galliano's successor as head of Dior's design team is expected to follow shortly after Thursday's verdict.

Sydney Toledano, chief executive of Dior, a subsidiary of French luxury giant LVMH , had promised to keep the successor's identity a secret until the trial's end.

Source: Agencies