Troubled star Michael Jackson has been dealt a major boost ahead of his child molestation trial - the judge wants to throw out 70 items seized from the singer's home.

Judge Rodney Melville originally concluded police had "probable cause" to believe Jackson had committed a crime when they searched his Neverland ranch in Santa Barbara, California, last year (03). But he's now made a preliminary ruling that prosecutors will not be allowed to use 70 seized items as evidence against the THRILLER star.

Jackson's lawyers told the pre-trial hearing in Santa Maria, California, that police tried to search parts of Neverland ranch not permitted by their warrant last November (03).

Police are known to have taken cameras, computers, documents, and video and audio tapes from Jackson's home.

Judge Melville has pledged to ban 70 out of 120 items of evidence Jackson's defence team wanted thrown out of the trial.

Jackson, 45, is charged with committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. He has pleaded not guilty and is free on $3 million (GBP1.6 million) bail.

His trial is scheduled to start on 30 January (05).

24/08/2004 13:43