Barry George

Barry George

Barry George (born 15 April 1960) was convicted on 2 July 2001 of the murder of British television presenter Jill Dando. His conviction was judged unsafe by the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) and was quashed on 15 November 2007. His retrial began on 9 June 2008,cite news | publisher= BBC News | url= | title= George denies Jill Dando murder | date= 14 December 2007 | accessdate= 2007-12-14] cite web |url = | title = Dando killed by 'obsessed loner' | accessdate= 2008-06-09] and George was acquitted on 1 August 2008.cite web
title=BBC NEWS — UK — George not guilty of Dando murder

Early life

Barry George was born in Hammersmith, London. His parents divorced when he was 13. At 14, he attended the publicly-funded Heathermount boarding school in Sunningdale, Berkshire, for children with emotional or behavioural difficulties.cite web | work= The Guardian | url=,7369,515874,00.html | title= Life and times of Barry George | date= 2 July 2001 | accessdate= 2007-12-14] After leaving school without qualifications his only employment was as a messenger with the BBC for four months in 1977. His interest in the BBC endured until his arrest; he was a regular reader of the in-house magazine "Ariel", and had reportedly kept four copies of the memorial issue which featured Jill Dando's murder. George has exhibited an interest in celebrities, including Diana, Princess of Wales;Fact|date=August 2008 and Prince Charles.Fact|date=August 2008 He adopted several pseudonyms, starting at school, where he used the name Paul Gadd, the real name of singer Gary Glitter.

Previous criminal convictions and investigations

In 1980, after a failed attempt to join the Metropolitan Police, George posed as a policeman having obtained false warrant cards. For this he was arrested and prosecuted. He appeared in court clad in glam rock clothing and untruthfully stated his name to be Paul Gadd, a revival of his Gary Glitter fixation"Did Barry George Kill Jill Dando?", Channel 4, Broadcast 4 November 2007] and the name under which he was charged. At Kingston Magistrate's Court he was fined £25. [ "Profile: Barry George",] "The Times", 1 August 2008.] In the same year, George was charged and acquitted of indecent assault, but shortly afterwards he was convicted on a similar charge for which he received a suspended three-month sentence.Duncan Campbell, Owen Bowcott and Vikram Dodd [ "A loner and fantasist but not a calculating killer",] "The Guardian", 2 August 2008.]

In 1983 George was convicted at the Old Bailey under the pseudonym of 'Steve Majors' for the attempted rape of a woman in his apartment block and served 23 months of a 33 month sentence. Shortly before this, as was revealed after his arrest for the Dando murder, George had been found attempting to break into Kensington Palace, at that time the home of Diana, Princess of Wales. He had been discovered on one occasion hiding in the grounds wearing a balaclava and carrying a knife, and in possession of a poem he had written to Prince Charles.

In May 1989 George married a Japanese student, Itsuko Toide, in what Ms Toide described as a marriage "of convenience – but nonetheless violent and terrifying." [cite web | work= BBC News | url= | title= Dando killer's Diana 'obsession' | date= 3 July 2001 | accessdate= 2008-08-01] After four months she reported an assault to the police; George was charged, but the case was dropped before coming to court, and the marriage ended.

A psychologist studying Barry George since his arrest for the Dando murder concluded that he was suffering from several different personality disorders, stating that he has an IQ of 75 and suffers from epilepsy.

Overturned conviction for murder of Jill Dando

Jill Dando was shot dead outside her home on 26 April 1999. Barry George was convicted of her murder on 2 July 2001, a verdict considered unsafe by some observers at the time. [Joan Smith [ "I'm amazed at the Dando verdict. Aren't you?",] "The Independent", 8 July 2001 as reproduced on the "Find Articles" website. Retrieved on 5 August 2008.] This verdict was overturned on appeal in November 2007.


In 2002, the Court of Appeal's judgment on the appeal, having addressed a number of grounds including eyewitness testimony, scientific evidence, and the role of the trial judge, concluded that the verdict of the jury was not unsafe and that appeal was dismissed.cite news | publisher= BBC News | url= | title= Appeal judges' verdict on Dando evidence| date= 29 July 2002 | accessdate= 2007-12-14]

In March 2006, Barry George's lawyers sought an appeal on fresh evidence based on medical examinations suggesting he was not capable of committing the crime because of his mental disabilities. A second defence argument was that two new witnesses say they saw armed police at the scene when George was arrested, contrary to official reports about the circumstances of his arrest — the Metropolitan Police maintain there were no armed officers present during the arrest of George. There was scientific evidence linking Barry George to the murder in the form of a single microscopic particle of what was said to have been gunshot residue, together with evidence as to the character of a fibre found on his clothing. It was argued by the defence that the presence of armed officers and their involvement in his arrest might have been responsible for the gunshot residue.

In September 2006, following investigations by George's campaigners and a "Panorama" documentary about the conviction, first broadcast in the UK on 5 September 2006 and which included an interview with the foreman of the trial jury, fresh evidence was submitted to the Criminal Cases Review Commission by the programme-makers and by Barry George's solicitor. The evidence concerned scientific analysis of the alleged gunshot residue, eyewitness evidence, and psychiatric reports. The programme revealed that the FBI had stopped using gunshot residue as evidence because it was extremely unreliable. Since then, the Crown Prosecution Service has decided not to use gunshot residue as evidence in new cases in the UK.Fact|date=August 2008

On 20 June 2007, the Criminal Cases Review Commission announced that it would refer George's case to the Court of Appeal.cite news | publisher= BBC News | url= | title= Fresh appeal in Dando murder case | date= 20 June 2007 | accessdate= 2007-12-14] On 22 August 2007, George was refused bail prior to the hearing, which subsequently began on 5 November 2007. [cite news | publisher = BBC News | url = | title = Dando killer George refused bail | date = 22 August 2007 |accessdate= 2007-12-14] One of the defence team's main grounds of appeal was that the single particle of gunshot residue in the coat pocket was not evidence which conclusively linked George to the crime scene; it could have appeared as a result of contamination of the coat when it was placed on a mannequin to be photographed as police evidence.

On 7 November 2007 the Court of Appeal reserved judgement in the case and on 15 November 2007 announced that the appeal was allowed and the conviction quashed.

In summary, the reasoning of the Court was that at the trial the prosecution had relied primarily on four categories of evidence:
#witnesses who had seen a man who looked like George near the scene of the murder when it occurred and one witness who had identified him as being there four hours earlier;
#repeated lies told by George in interview;
#an alleged attempt to create a false alibi;
#the single particle of firearm discharge residue (FDR) found, about a year after the murder, in George's overcoat.

The prosecution had called expert witnesses at the trial whose evidence suggested that it was likely that the particle of FDR came from a gun fired by Barry George rather than from some other source.

Those witnesses and other witnesses from the Forensic Science Service told the Court of Appeal that this was not the right conclusion to draw from the discovery of the particle of FDR. It was instead no more likely that the particle had come from a gun fired by Barry George than that it had come from some other source. The Court of Appeal concluded that, if this evidence had been given to the jury at the trial, there was no certainty that the jury would have found George guilty. For this reason his conviction had to be quashed. [cite web | url= | work= British and Irish Legal Information Institute | title= George vs R. EWCA Crim 2722 | accessdate= 2007-12-14]

A retrial was ordered and George was remanded in custody, making no application for bail. [cite news | publisher= BBC News | url= | title= Dando murder case set for retrial | date= 15 November 2007 | accessdate= 2007-12-14]


George appeared before the Old Bailey on 14 December 2007 and again pleaded not guilty to the murder. His retrial began on 9 June 2008. Initially there was a lot of coverage in the press, especially of the prosecution portrayal of the defendant as being highly obsessive, lacking in social skills and a danger to women. The prosecution case differed the first trial in that there was practically no scientific evidence as the evidence relating to the FDR was ruled inadmissible by the trial judge (Mr Justice Griffith Williams). There was much evidence of George's bad character which was admitted in the re-trial (at the discretion of the trial judge) as a result of the enactment of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 since the original trial. There were delays due to legal arguments and to the illnesses of the defendant and one of the jurors. For the defence William Clegg QC reminded the jury that evidence from three women from HAFAD (Hammersmith and Fulham Action on Disability) placed the defendant's arrival at their offices at 11:50 or 12:00, which, according to Clegg's argument, would have made it impossible for him to have committed a murder at Dando's house at 11:30 and then gone home (in the wrong direction) to change. Two neighbours who almost certainly saw the murderer immediately after the shooting had seen him go off in this direction, and later failed to identify Barry George at an identification parade. The trial ended with George's acquittal on 1 August 2008.

ee also

*Miscarriage of justice


* cite book
authorlink = Brian Cathcart
last = Cathcart
first = Brian
title = Jill Dando — Her Life and Death
isbn = 978-014029468-2

* cite book
authorlink = Scott Lomax
last = Lomax
first = Scott
title = Who Killed Jill Dando?
isbn = 978-075520503-5

* cite book
authorlink = Scott Lomax
last = Lomax
first = Scott
title = Justice for Jill
isbn = 978-184454404-2

External links

*BBC News [ Jill Dando Trial in Depth]
* [ — First Interview with Barry George in prison]
* [,,2099-2422257,00.html Recent Sunday Times interview]
* [ Article by Scott Lomax questioning Barry George's conviction]
* [ Justice for Barry]

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