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Tuesday, 8 May, 2001, 19:03 GMT 20:03 UK
'Gun clue' in Dando suspect's coat
Barry George
Barry George denies murdering Jill Dando
Discharge residue which may have come from a fired gun was found in the coat of the man accused of killing television presenter Jill Dando, a court has heard.

A particle of residue - found in the pocket of a blue coat belonging to Barry George - provided "compelling evidence of his guilt", prosecutor Orlando Pownall told the Old Bailey.

There were also similarities in particles from Mr George's coat and from the coat worn by Miss Dando when she was shot outside her home in Gowan Avenue, Fulham on 26 April 1999, the court heard.

Mr George, from Fulham, west London, pleads not guilty to the murder of 37-year-old BBC presenter.


Although he might not have had a rational motive, this defendant shot Jill Dando

Orlando Pownall
prosecuting
X-ray tests on two particles found in Miss Dando's hair and the particle from the coat were "very similar in that they contain comparable proportions of the main chemical elements, barium and aluminium," Mr Pownall said.

"The three particles from the hair and the single particle from the coat could all have originated during the firing of the cartridge that contained the cartridge case recovered at Gowan Avenue," he added.

Gowan Avenue
Miss Dando was killed on her doorstep
But while he acknowledged that fireworks also produced similar particles, Mr Pownall said experts had concluded the particles were more likely produced from a firearm.

The prosecution also said it would have been difficult for the coat to have been deliberately contaminated with the particle and that police had taken great care not to contaminate evidence during the investigation.

He said Mr George had a particle in the inside pocket of his coat "comprised of the same elements as were found on the coat of Jill Dando and in the same proportion".

"This aspect of the case provides compelling evidence of his guilt," said Mr Pownall.

Lists of celebrities

The prosecution alleges that Mr George had an obsession with the Army, guns and celebrities.

He had allegedly claimed to be the cousin of the singer with Queen - the late Freddie Mercury - and called himself Barry Bulsara.

Earlier on Tuesday the court heard how torn newspaper reports about Jill Dando's death and written references to other women celebrities were found at Mr George's flat.

"There were two copies - one torn - of the Metro newspaper referring to the death of Jill Dando," said Mr Pownall.

'Accused shot Jill Dando'

Closing his opening speech Mr Pownall said that George had been devious in his interviews - only displaying knowledge of the truth when confronted with independent evidence.

The jury would be sure there was a "strong and unassailable link" in the evidence which identified George being responsible for the killing, he said.

"In the course of this trial, you can be sure the components I have endeavoured to supply are collectively unique," Mr Pownall said.

"Although he might not have had a rational motive, this defendant shot Jill Dando."

In a statement read to the court, Miss Dando's fiance Alan Farthing described their final moments together and their whirlwind romance.

It emerged that Miss Dando had been busy arranging the couple's honeymoon just hours before she was shot dead.

Crimewatch director Mrs Seetha Kumar broke down as she recalled working with Miss Dando.

Another witness, Miss Dando's agent Alison Lewis, said Miss Dando had received a strongly-worded letter after appealing for help for Kosovan refugees in the days prior to her death.

The letter described the refugees as "criminals" and accused Miss Dando of being ignorant of the issues.

She said she was aware that Miss Dando was shot on the day of a funeral for a number of people killed in a Nato bomb attack on a television centre in Belgrade.

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"Minute particles had been found on her coat"
See also:

04 May 01 | UK
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