A series of tape recordings purporting to feature late superstar Michael Jackson slurring his speech and rambling about his financial difficulties have been released.
The tapes were handed to British newspaper The Sun by American journalist Daphne Barak and include answer machine messages which Jackson left with a friend in 2003, six years before his death in 2009 from an overdose of powerful anaesthetic Propofol.
Barak claims the audio, in which Jackson can reportedly be heard worrying about his financial woes and plotting to leave his Neverland Ranch, shows the star was in the grip of a prescription drug addiction years before he died.
She tells the publication, "Some of Michael's closest confidantes talked to me exclusively about his addictions - and provided audio tapes of Michael never heard before. These demonstrate different states of mind he was experiencing under the influence of pharmaceuticals."
The recordings were made the year the star faced a public backlash following the Martin Bashir TV documentary in which he admitted sharing his bed with children, and appear to show Jackson in a troubled state of mind.
On one of the tapes, he says, "It is Michael calling. It is very important, I want that 150 in that account for me, because... I am very concerned about my life. I am hearing a lot of stories that (name withheld) is still trying to sabotage... me... I want to be away for a while where they can't find me."
A second message adds, "It is Michael. It is 4.30 in the morning here that's why I sound very sleepy and I'm really worn out... but please check the message I left a day or so ago. I am very concerned. I don't trust that man. We think he's bad, we think he is Italian mafia. Please... we must be smarter than him. So please, help me with this... I wanna be away... I don't want to be in Neverland right now."
Jackson's personal physician Dr. Conrad Murray has pleaded not guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter after he was accused of administering the drug which killed the singer.