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EDITIONS
Thursday, 21 June, 2001, 22:25 GMT 23:25 UK
Dando jury urged to be dispassionate
Barry George
Barry George denies murdering Jill Dando
The jury in the Jill Dando murder trial has been told to ignore the powerful feelings associated with her death when making their decision.

Michael Mansfield QC, defending, said Miss Dando "had a place in everyone's heart, mind and on the television screen - she was a central figure in many people's minds".

Giving his closing speech at the Old Bailey, Mr Mansfield said he did not know whether any juror remembered exactly where they were at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, when Princess Diana died or when news of Jill Dando's death was broadcast.

Miss Dando
Miss Dando was found dead on her doorstep

But he said what had happened in this case had assumed the magnitude of those epic occasions.

Mr Mansfield told a court containing Miss Dando's fiance Alan Farthing and Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross that for several days her death eclipsed news of the Kosovan-Serbian war in which "this country was engaged".

Earlier, the court heard the prosecution's closing speech in the trial of Barry George, 41, of Crookham Road, Fulham, west London, who denies murdering Miss Dando on 26 April 1999.

The TV presenter was shot through the head as she arrived on the doorstep of her home.

'Strength of feelings'

Orlando Pownall, prosecuting, said Mr George had played "cat and mouse" with police after his arrest and repeatedly lied when interviewed by officers.

But Mr Mansfield said: "We ask you to be careful about the strength of feelings there may be.

"What this case requires above all, especially by you as judges of the facts, is an ability to ignore those feelings.


The two people in prime position to identify him did not do so

Michael Mansfield QC
Defence
"They cannot be allowed to influence you in your approach to the case.

"It will do no justice to Jill Dando's memory or this case were you to allow those feelings to mould together what otherwise might be a non-existent case because there is some unconscious way or another a desire to see someone pay."

To think there has to be, at the end of the day, something on which to cling would be an injustice, said Mr Mansfield.

Key witnesses

Mr Mansfield urged the jury to examine the evidence as objectively and as humanely as possible "and with a mind directed towards the real principles in this case".

He said: "You will have to tread extremely carefully.

"The two key witnesses did not pick him the defendant out.

"The two people in prime position to identify him did not do so.

"The underlying theme here does not work, members of the jury."

The court was adjourned until Friday morning.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"Seven weeks of evidence is now being summed up"
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