The cancer victim who became a regular at Neverland

Helen McCormack
Tuesday 14 June 2005 00:00 BST

The credibility of Gavin Arvizo, a boy from a poor Los Angeles suburb, and his mother, Janet, was key to the case against Michael Jackson.

During the trial, the star's defence team sought to portray the Arvizos as dishonest gold diggers intent on taking advantage of Mr Jackson's generosity.

His mother, separated from his father, David Arvizo, shortly after the son was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2000, proved a problematic witness for the prosecution, giving at times rambling evidence. The family accused Mr Arvizo of physically abusing both her and three of her children, including Gavin, and she has since remarried a major in the US army.

Gavin met Mr Jackson during a stay at a hospital were he was being treated for cancer and before long, the two were speaking regularly on the phone. Jackson invited the boy and his family to his Neverland ranch.

Gavin, who was undergoing chemotherapy at the time and had lost most of his hair, was filmed walking arm in arm with Jackson in the grounds of his ranch. One of the videos, featuring footage of the pair listening to one of Jackson's singles, later formed part of the court case.

After several visits to Neverland, Gavin claimed the singer suddenly stopped calling him. He said he had felt abandoned, particularly as Jackson's apparent disinterest came while he was still seriously ill.

He next heard from Jackson when he invited him to take part in Martin Bashir's documentary, and alleged the abuse took place after the filming.

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