Thomas Sneddon: Californian district attorney who twice prosecuted the singer Michael Jackson on charges of child molestation

"He was just a helluva boss," said Patrick McKinley, who worked with Sneddon

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The Independent Online

Tom Sneddon was the district attorney who twice prosecuted Michael Jackson on child molestation charges and was disparaged in one of the pop star's songs. "I don't think you will find a prosecutor in the district attorney's office who worked for him who has one bad thing to say about him. He was just a helluva boss," said Patrick McKinley, who worked with Sneddon. "He wasn't afraid to make a decision. He would make a decision and away we'd go."

Sneddon investigated Michael Jackson on child sexual abuse allegations in 1993 and again a decade later. The first case fell apart after a boy's family accepted a settlement of more than $15m from Jackson and declined to testify against him.

Jackson shot back in a thinly disguised swipe at the prosecutor in a funk-based song called "D.S." on the HIStory album. The song contains the lyrics, "Dom Sheldon is a cold man." Sneddon said, "I have not, shall we say, done him the honour of listening to it, but I've been told that it ends with the sound of a gunshot."

A second set of allegations against Jackson made by a young cancer survivor resulted in a televised trial in 2005 which ended with Jackson's acquittal. The singer's defence counsel, Thomas Mesereau Jr, had painted Sneddon as an overzealous prosecutor who had a "personal vendetta" against Jackson after the first case fell apart.

But Sneddon, who retired in 2006, continued to insist that he believed Jackson could be a danger to children and said he would have considered a conviction tragic, considering Jackson's accomplishments.

Thomas William Sneddon, lawyer: born Los Angeles 26 May 1941; married Pamela (nine children); died Santa Barbara 1 November 2014.