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Tuesday, 22 May, 2001, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
Dando search team quizzed
Barry George
Barry George denies murdering Jill Dando
Police officers who searched the home of the man accused of killing Jill Dando were not all wearing full forensic clothing, a jury has been told.

The Old Bailey also heard that the officers could not remember being asked whether they had been in contact with guns before they began the search.

An overcoat with traces of "firearm discharge residue" in one pocket was found on an initial search of the flat on 17 April last year, the court heard.

Seven officers were giving evidence on the 12th day of the trial of Barry George, 41, who denies shooting the television presenter on the doorstep of her Fulham home on 26 April 1999.

Miss Dando
Jill Dando was one of the UK's best-known presenters
Michael Mansfield QC, defending Mr George, asked one of the officers: "Nothing was said about the risks of contamination in relation to firearms residue?"

Although they did not remember being asked about gun contacts before the first search, the officers did recall being asked before a second search of the flat in Crookham Road, Fulham, in May.

The court heard that the search team had been called in from police stations all across London and that some arrived already wearing their search outfits.

Several members of the team said they could not recall being asked to change into their outfits immediately before entering the flat.

'Normal search'

The court heard that most wore standard "search blues", which consist of blue shirts and trousers, while some wore blue overalls.

Every officer save one - a search adviser - wore latex gloves and most were wearing clean boots.

But the court heard they were not wearing disposable forensic "over-shoes".

Miss Dando's former house
Jill Dando was found dead on her doorstep
Inspector Adrian White, the search adviser, said his officers were wearing blue overalls but not disposable paper forensic suits.

It was a "normal search", he said, no different to others carried out.

Pc Peter Hogan, a member of the search team, said he had not worn an overall or boot coverings.

He told the court he had cleaned his boots the previous night, but would not necessarily have cleaned the soles.

Potential evidence

Pc Phil Cain, who found the Cecil Gee overcoat in the kitchen of the flat, said he had opened its empty pockets with latex gloves to look inside, before handing it to the exhibits officer to be packaged as potential evidence.

He said he had not handled guns but had once found ammunition during a search.

Pc Cain added that he could not remember if he had picked up the ammunition, but would have worn gloves.

Mr Mansfield asked: "The risk is, in that situation, that if the gloves themselves have picked up minute, microscopic particles of residue from the ammunition, the gloves themselves could transfer those same particles to the outside of the packaging in which the ammunition has been put?"

"Yes sir, I assume so," replied Pc Cain.

The trial continues.

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