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Last Updated: Friday, 18 March, 2005, 04:04 GMT
Star's home 'was pleasure island'
Michael Jackson arrives at court in Santa Maria
Jackson's housekeeper said she saw children who seemed drunk
An ex-housekeeper at Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch has described it as a "pleasure island" where children ran riot and slept in the singer's bedroom.

Kiki Fournier, giving evidence in Mr Jackson's trial on child abuse charges, told the court how the singer had a series of close friendships with boys.

Gavin Arvizo, Mr Jackson's 15-year-old accuser, was polite at first but grew wilder the longer he stayed, she said.

The singer denies 10 charges, including child abuse and false imprisonment.

Ms Fournier said "children appeared intoxicated" on three or four occasions.

Once she served dinner to Mr Jackson and a group of children, "two or three" of whom seemed drunk, but she added that she never saw him give alcohol to a minor.

The testimony followed Wednesday's evidence from a policeman investigating the case, who told how Gavin Arvizo claimed he was molested five to seven times but could describe only two instances in detail.

Jurors were also shown magazines and videos alleged to form part of a collection of pornography Mr Jackson kept at his ranch.

Neverland became like Pinocchio's pleasure island without the parents
Kiki Fournier
Former Neverland housekeeper

Ms Fournier, who worked periodically at Neverland from 1991 to 2003, said children who visited would run wild away from parental supervision.

Some would stay for weeks during school holidays, she said, eating what they wanted, staying up late to watch films and having food fights.

"Neverland became like Pinocchio's pleasure island without the parents," Ms Fournier told the jury.

"He [Michael Jackson] did let them have a free hand. They could get pretty rambunctious."

Room trashed

The court has heard allegations that Mr Jackson molested Gavin after giving him alcohol.

Ms Fournier told how on many occasions children would refuse to sleep in the bedrooms given to them, and instead chose to spend the night with Mr Jackson.

"Usually they'd get assigned some place to sleep, but sometimes they would stay with Mr Jackson," she told the court.

The former housekeeper said Gavin and his younger brother grew rowdier the longer they stayed, going through their room "like a tornado" before they left.

Supporters of Michael Jackson pray before the day's court hearing starts
Supporters still wait outside the California court to see the pop star

Actor Macaulay Culkin was among some nine teenage boys Ms Fournier named as having developed close friendships with Mr Jackson.

The BBC's Michael Buchanan, at the trial in Santa Maria, California, says a police officer's testimony about a card found during a search of Neverland in November 2003 seems to bolster the defence case.

In the card, Gavin describes Mr Jackson as the finest grown-up in the world and thanks him for helping him beat cancer.

Earlier, the court heard evidence from a Los Angeles TV weatherman and comedian who befriended Gavin's family at a comedy camp.

Fritz Coleman described taking Christmas presents to the family's cramped one-room apartment.

He helped raise money for medical expenses for Gavin after visiting him in hospital when he had cancer, he said, but the family had not asked for cash.

He had found Gavin, his brother and sister "personable, polite and charismatic", he added.

Cross-examined by Mr Jackson's lead lawyer Thomas Mesereau, Mr Coleman said he did not know Gavin's mother had won a large lawsuit against a department store and had solicited money from several celebrities.




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