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Cleared of all charges



Michael Jackson walked free from court in California last night after being cleared of all charges in his child abuse trial.The dramatic ending to the marathon 16-week trial was greeted by screams of joys by thousands of fans of the 46-year-old entertainer who were gathered outside the courtroom in Santa Maria.The singer showed no emotion as the court heard the verdicts on 10 counts – all denied by Jackson – of child abuse, conspiracy and plying a minor with alcohol, relating to the alleged molestation of 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo two years ago.He left the court minutes after the acquittal and returned to his Neverland ranch without addressing his legion of supporters.The jurors announced they were ready to deliver their verdict after spending 33 hours over seven days working their way through the mass of evidence relating to the charges.More than 140 witnesses testified and almost 700 pieces of evidence were presented as prosecutors sought to paint Jackson as a serial abuser of young boys and defence lawyers attacked the claims as a “big lie” and an attempt to “dirty up” the star and extort money.The court sat in silence with no other sound than the judge opening the envelopes containing the verdict forms and checking them through.