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Friday, 15 June, 2001, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
Dando suspect 'was not obsessed'
Barry George
Barry George denies murdering Jill Dando
The man accused of shooting dead Jill Dando had never stalked or been obsessed with the TV presenter, an Old Bailey jury has been told.

Michael Mansfield QC, defending, said those who knew Barry George had not suggested that he was wandering around "muttering about or obsessed" with her.

He added that Mr George would not be taking the stand during the trial.

Miss Dando
Miss Dando was found dead on her doorstep
The evidence which would prove he was not the killer would come from eye witnesses, forensic scientists and his movements on the day of the shooting, he said.

Miss Dando was shot dead on the doorstep of her home in Gowan Avenue, Fulham, west London, on 26 April 1999.

Mr George, 41, of Crookham Road, Fulham, denies murder.

Mr Mansfield told the court that the Crown's case was "fundamentally flawed" and lacked any evidence of a motive.

"The Crown have endeavoured to suggest that this defendant had obsessional aspects to his personality and therefore, Jill Dando," he said.

"The fundamental flaw in this argument is that there is no evidence that prior to Jill Dando's murder this defendant had any particular interest in her.

'No contact'

"Over the many months before her death those who had got to know the defendant on a regular basis do not suggest that he was wandering around muttering about, or obsessed with Jill Dando, as either someone he knew or wanted to know."

Mr Mansfield said that despite the fact that Mr George and Miss Dando lived within half a mile of one another over a number of years, there were 12 points the jury should consider.

These included the points that he did not meet nor attempt to meet her, he did not contact her by letter, or telephone, or in any other way and he did not follow her, nor stalk her.

Mr Mansfield told the court that police had taken statements from a number of local residents in the Fulham area - some who had known MrGeorge for nearly 20 years.

'Startled'

There was no evidence he had mentioned Miss Dando in conversations with them, he added.

The defence read a statement to the court from teacher Fiona Hughes, a neighbour who was in Gowan Avenue on the day Miss Dando was shot.

"Although I did not know Jill very well she always seemed very happy with life and I was not aware of her having any problems," she said.

Mrs Hughes stated that she had never seen "anyone strange hanging around her house or nearby in the street".

A traffic warden patrolling Gowan Avenue the morning Miss Dando died told the court how she was startled by a man in a blue Range Rover parked on the same side of the road as the presenter's house.

Mr Michael Mansfield QC arrives at the Old Bailey 14.06.01
Michael Mansfield QC: Crown's case is 'fundamentally flawed'
The defence had earlier suggested that a Serbian or underworld hitman or accomplice may have been waiting in a vehicle for Miss Dando to leave or arrive.

Breege Clancy said she noticed the Range Rover had not displayed a parking permit.

"It seemed to have darkened windows. The driver was on a mobile phone and started moving his hands to get my attention.

"He made me jump as I did not think there was anyone in the car."

She said she did not issue a ticket.

Jonathan Laidlaw, prosecuting, suggested that the driver would have risked the vehicle coming to her attention by failing to buy a permit, which Mrs Clancy agreed with.

He asked: "There was nothing sinister in the driver's behaviour that caused you to take fright?"

Mrs Clancy said: "No." She agreed that rather then being furtive, the driver was drawing her attention to him.

The trial continues.

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The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"His lawyers said police searches had failed to find evidence"
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