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EDITIONS
Monday, 2 July, 2001, 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK
Barry George: Obsessed with fame
Barry George
Barry George was obsessed with guns
By the BBC's David Shukman

Visit the deprived White City housing estate in West London and you would never guess that this was the starting-point in life for the man who went on to murder one of the most popular television presenters in the country.

Barry George grew up as a difficult child in a broken home, always restless, always seeking something more glamorous for himself.

A family friend, Charlie Tobin, used to baby-sit the young Barry, but found him a demanding child.

"He was hyperactive, things went wrong, I wanted to get out," Mr Tobin told the BBC.

Fantasy world

Barry George
George has a previous conviction for attempted rape
As a young man Barry George developed a taste for inventing fantasy lives.

He told the local newspaper he was the British Karate champion and that he was planning to jump four buses on roller-skates. He also said he was actually called Paul Gadd, the real name for Gary Glitter, and managed three rock-groups.

He joined the Territorial Army and a gun club and told his friends he was really in the SAS. But the TA and club soon rejected him.

He claimed he was called Steve Majors after the actor Lee Majors and his TV character Steve Austin, the Bionic Man.

George would also stand in the street directing traffic, impersonating a policeman. He once announced he was cousin to Freddy Mercury.

He must have found his real identity unbearably dull and frustrating. Eventually it led him to violence.

Attempted rape

In the 1980s he assaulted a woman living in his tower-block and was jailed for attempted rape. Another neighbour was assaulted by him as well.

"They start with indecent assault," she says, " and go on to rape and then to what happened to poor Jill Dando."

George had a fascination with showbusiness. He longed to be in that world. But apart from a brief spell as a BBC messenger, he never was.

One of his closest friends was a lollipop-lady, Angela Hope. "He wasn't all right up there," she says.

"Not a maniac or anything, but not quite normal."

Obsessed by guns

She thinks all his fantasies were harmless, and that he was trustworthy.

"He never carried a gun or anything," she remembers.

But he was certainly obsessed with guns, and lonely, and disappointed at never being famous. Things were getting to him.

One psychologist reckons he craved attention more than anything, especially from women. Shooting Jill Dando was the ultimate answer to that.

But he isn't famous, as he wanted. He's notorious. And many will ask why his problems weren't noticed earlier, and why he wasn't stopped sooner.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's David Shukman
"He built up a series of obsessions and frustrations"
Clinical psychologist Oliver James
looks at reasons why Barry George may have murdered Jill Dando
Majorie Wallace of SANE
"It is when fantasy and reality break the boundaries and the fantasies take over"


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