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EDITIONS
Friday, 4 May, 2001, 19:54 GMT 20:54 UK
Witnesses 'saw agitated suspect'
Barry George
Barry George denies murdering Jill Dando
Much of the prosecution case against Jill Dando murder suspect Barry George will focus on his movements around the time of the killing, the jury at his trial was told on Friday.

Orlando Pownall QC, prosecuting, told the Old Bailey that witness statements and other events had undermined Mr George's account of his whereabouts given to police.

Mr George, from Fulham, west London, pleads not guilty to the murder of 37-year-old Miss Dando on the doorstep of her home in Gowan Avenue, Fulham, on 26 April 1999.

Although Mr George told police he had not known anything about the television presenter, he allegedly told a journalist he had seen her on the BBC's Crimewatch UK programme.

Witnesses also claim to have seen him on the day of the murder, looking red-faced and agitated, said Mr Pownall.


What did the defendant have to fear?

Orlando Pownall QC
Prosecutor
Mr Pownall said that two days after the killing Mr George had tried to get a local disability centre to confirm what time he had visited on the day of the murder.

At that point he was not a suspect and the police had not even issued an e-fit of the man they were looking for, although press reports had mentioned a smartly-dressed man with dark hair.

Mr Pownall asked: "What did the defendant have to fear? Why did he feel impelled to seek verification of his movements.

"Were his actions merely an irrational response to a misguided belief that he might become a suspect, or were they the actions of a man who knew he was responsible and was doing his level best to create an alibi?"

The prosecution said Mr George was interviewed by a journalist retracing Miss Dando's route.

He said he gave the name Barry Bulsara and asked: "Who would want to do such a thing?"

"He said he used to see her on Crimewatch, she seemed a lovely lady," said Mr Pownall.

'Different account'

"If true this account was markedly different from what he told the police, when he claimed that he had never heard of Jill Dando before her death," he said.

On the day of the murder, three witnesses saw a man - the prosecution say it was Mr George - loitering in Gowan Avenue between 7am and 10am.

The prosecutor also described how staff at a taxi firm recalled Mr George being agitated, red-faced and sweating when he entered their office at about 12.55pm.


He was behaving in a strange manner and appeared agitated

Orlando Pownall QC
Prosecutor
Ramesh Paul, the manager of the taxi firm in Fulham Palace Road said the defendant asked for a taxi but was refused as he had no money.

Mr George allegedly remained in the office "with his back to the counter, gazing up and down the street".

"He was behaving in a strange manner and appeared agitated," said Mr Pownall.

He was later given a free lift after another customer called in asking to be picked up from the same street.

'Strange manner'

Four witnesses at Hammersmith and Fulham Action for the Disabled (Hafad) also recalled seeing Mr George on the day of the killing, Mr Pownall said.

"He was acting in a strange manner and appeared upset. He was casually dressed and wearing a yellow or ochre open necked shirt," he said.


From an early stage this defendant was at pains to verify what his movements were

Orlando Pownall QC
Prosecutor
Mr George allegedly told staff: "I don't have any appointment. I need help" before describing problems with his GP, solicitor and local housing department.

Mr Pownall said the evidence of staff members put the time of his visit between 11am and 2pm.

But Mr Pownall said he returned two days later, allegedly demanding verification of the timing of his earlier visit.

"He was threatening and intimidating in his manner. He insisted on knowing what time he had attended the centre," said Mr Pownall.

Mr George allegedly mentioned that the description published of the murderer of Miss Dando fitted him.

Mr Pownall said another witness Sally Mason, who had known Mr George for 15 years, asked him about Miss Dando's killing and he allegedly told her: "I was there you know."

"Ms Mason thought nothing of the remark and believed it was just another of his fantasies," said Mr Pownall.

The case continues.

See also:

04 May 01 | UK
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