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Last Updated: Friday, 11 March, 2005, 22:51 GMT
Jackson 'on brink of bankruptcy'
Michael Jackson after his late arrival at court
Michael Jackson was not in court to hear the legal arguments
Michael Jackson is a "spendaholic" with debts of $300m (156m), according to prosecutors who are seeking to use his financial records as trial evidence.

They told the judge money problems may have led the singer to conspire to hold his teenage accuser and family captive in a bid to limit damage to his empire.

The legal arguments came a day after Mr Jackson arrived late to his child molestation trial dressed in pyjamas.

Mr Jackson denies 10 charges including child abuse and false imprisonment.

The singer was not in the Santa Maria court for Friday's hearing. The jury will also return to court next week.

'Billionaire spending habit'

Prosecutors told Judge Rodney Melville they believed the US singer had debts of $300m and faced liabilities of $400m (208m) by the end of the year.

"We have more than reason to believe that Michael Jackson is on the precipice of bankruptcy," Assistant District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss said.

Defence lawyer Thomas Mesereau
Michael Jackson's lawyers say his current finances are not relevant
He described the singer as a "spendaholic" who "has a billionaire spending habit for only a millionaire's spending budget".

The prosecutors claim Mr Jackson's financial problems were the reason he allegedly conspired to kidnap Gavin Arvizo, the boy who accuses him of molestation, and his family.

They say the singer was desperate to protect his financial empire and so wanted the family to rebut damaging claims made in a TV documentary.

Mr Jackson's defence lawyer argued the singer's finances were "totally irrelevant" to the case, as the alleged kidnap plot took place in February 2003.

Teenager's testimony

The judge did not rule immediately but asked the two sides to reach a compromise on what was needed as evidence.

He did however rule that talk show host Jay Leno, a possible witness in the trial, may joke about the case.

Leno is only barred from speaking on his NBC Tonight Show about specific areas on which he may testify.

The judge also ruled out a jury visit to Mr Jackson's Neverland Ranch that the singer's lawyers had been seeking.

The legal arguments came a day after the jury heard 15-year-old Gavin describe the alleged abuse.

He said he and Mr Jackson were in bed together at the singer's ranch and that, after asking the boy lots of questions about sex, Mr Jackson had put his hand down the teenager's pyjama bottoms and touched him.

Gavin also described how he had consumed various kinds of alcoholic drinks - including vodka, wine and brandy - with the star.


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