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EDITIONS
Thursday, 24 May, 2001, 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK
Accused 'never saw Dando'
Jill Dando in the Seychelles for the Holiday programme
Jill Dando was one of the UK's best-known presenters
The man accused of murdering TV presenter Jill Dando told police he had never seen her "in the flesh in any shape or form", his trial has heard.

Barry George, 41, from Fulham, west London, denies murdering Ms Dando on the doorstep of her home, also in Fulham, on 26 April 1999.

A jury at the Old Bailey was told that Mr George was interviewed by detectives a year after the murder.

Barry George
Barry George denies murdering Miss Dando
The court was told that, when asked whether he had ever met Miss Dando, Mr George replied: "Never, ever in my entire life."

More videotaped interviews with the police were played to the jury in which Mr George repeatedly denied telling lies.

But he admitted to police that although he had used the name Bulsara and had said he was the cousin of the late Queen singer Freddie Mercury, they were not in fact related.

Asked by Detective Constable Tim Snowden when he last saw Miss Dando, Mr George said: "I have never seen Jill Dando in the flesh in any shape or form."

'Photo denial'

The court heard this was despite going to the BBC in Wood Lane on a "weekly basis" to collect copies of the in-house newspaper Ariel over a period of around seven years.

He also told police he had never owned a handgun.


I have repetitive intimidation from certain police forces - it is true.

Barry George
DC Snowden then showed him a photograph - which had been found on a roll of film in his flat - allegedly showing him wearing a gas mask, balaclava and holding a handgun.

The officer repeatedly asked him if he recognised the man in the picture.

After studying the picture for some time Mr George was asked "Do you agree it is you in that picture?"

"No sir," he replied.

'Replica gun'

DC Snowden persisted: "That is you in that picture. You are holding, possessing a firearm, will you please explain that Mr George?"

Mr George replied: "I cannot explain that sir."

DC Snowden said: "This weapon is the type of weapon similar to or could have been used to murder Jill Dando. There is a picture of you holding that weapon. Where is that weapon?"

Mr George said the gun was a replica and said the last time he saw it was with a friend, David Dobbins.

Miss Dando's former house
Miss Dando was shot outside her home
DC Snowden told him that the gun he was holding in the photograph had been modified to enable it to fire, although Mr George claimed to have no knowledge of this.

DC Snowden said: "In my opinion, all these are lies. You are lying about this. The question is why are you lying?"

Mr George insisted: "I am not sir. I have no reason to lie."

DC Snowden alleged: "The reason you have to lie is that you are currently on suspicion of the murder of Jill Dando."

Mr George replied: "I am not sir. I have told you the absolute truth."

Firearms knowledge

Mr George also maintained on the tape that he only had a modest knowledge of guns and would not know how to modify a weapon.

Mr George was asked again on the videotape if the person in the picture was him and he replied: "It could be sir."

DC Snowden said: "You said you had never owned a gun."

"Not a gun - a replica gun," said Mr George.

He told police he had not fired a round of ammunition for more than two years.

Photofit dispute

Mr George confirmed that he went to the offices of the Hammersmith and Fulham Action for Disability (Hafad) on the day Miss Dando was shot and returned there two days later.

He told police he had wanted to account for his movements as people had said he was similar in appearance to a photofit of the killer.

The prosecution says the photofit was only released four days after the murder.

Mr George told police: "I went back there basically to account for my movements. I was concerned to account for my whereabouts. I have repetitive intimidation from certain police forces - it is true."

The case continues on Friday.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
reports from the trial
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