A detective in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial has confessed police investigating the claims mishandled vital evidence.

Officer PAUL ZELIS - who played a major part in the raid on Jackson's Neverland Ranch in 2003 - told the Santa Maria, California court yesterday (16MAR05) that 15-year-old GAVIN ARVIZO was allowed to sift through seized pornographic magazines before the explicit items had undergone forensic tests.

Zelis admitted Arvizo touched the lewd publications at a previous hearing, before specialists had checked them for fingerprints.

Gavin Arvizo and his brother STAR, 14, have already taken to the stand, insisting Jackson showed them the pornographic material. The defence counters the boys discovered Jackson's explicit stash while he was out the room.

Jackson has pleaded not guilty to 10 felony charges of child molestation, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiracy involving allegations of child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.

The trial continues.

17/03/2005 17:26