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The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"Barry George's solicitor said the decision was wrong"
 real 56k

The BBC's Stephen Cape
reports on how police put Barry George in court
 real 56k

Tuesday, 3 July, 2001, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
Dando killer begins life term
Barry George
George shot Miss Dando with a single bullet
Barry George has begun his life sentence for the murder of BBC TV presenter Jill Dando.

The obsessive loner was found guilty by a majority verdict of 10-1 of killing Ms Dando outside her west London home on 26 April, 1999.

However George has always denied the murder and will appeal against his conviction, which his family has called a miscarriage of justice.

Speaking after the verdict on Monday, his solicitor, Marilyn Etienne, said: "Barry George is innocent. There will be an appeal, justice was not seen today."


There may be a number of grounds which could lead to this conviction being declared unsafe

James Wood QC
George's legal team must now lodge papers declaring the intention to appeal, and decide on what grounds this will be made.

This could be on disputed aspects of the prosecution case, such as the identification or forensic evidence presented.

Author Brian Cathcart, who has written a book about the murder, told the BBC that "fundamental mistakes" had been made in the murder investigation.

He said: "That a coat which had been sealed in an evidence bag should have been removed from that bag to be photographed and then replaced in that bag.

"That it was photographed in a studio where firearms were also photographed. It beggars belief."

John McManus, from the Miscarriages of Justice campaign and support group, said the case had all the hallmarks of a miscarriage of justice.

"He doesn't seek attention so if he killed her to become famous why hasn't he confessed? He doesn't fit the profile."

But Mr McManus said George was "very unlikely" to lodge a successful appeal.

"It is a Catch 22 situation for him," he said.

"He has been convicted on circumstantial evidence but the Court of Appeal will not look at anything based on circumstantial evidence.

Photo of George posing with a handgun
Police found photo of George posing with a handgun
"He needs fresh evidence, but it's going to be very difficult to find."

If denied an appeal court hearing, the campaign group believes George's only option would be to apply to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which could take several years to reach a decision.

Criminal barrister James Wood QC told the BBC that several aspects of the case were common in miscarriages of justice.

"There is the absence of the motive, the disputed forensic evidence," he said.

"You had a vulnerable defendant who the defence undoubtedly believed was incapable of speaking on his own behalf and withstanding cross-examination."

After the trial it emerged that George, who had a history of stalking women, had once served a prison sentence for attempted rape.

The evidence that convicted George
Gunfire residue on his coat
A fibre from his trousers at the crime scene
Eyewitnesses placed him at the scene
He was fascinated with guns
He was obsessed by celebrities and the BBC
He was also arrested outside Kensington Palace, the home of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1983 dressed in combat gear and with a 15ft rope coiled around his chest and a commando knife strapped in his belt, but was not charged over the incident.

Doctors who studied George, of Crookham Road, Fulham, concluded he had "psychiatric personality characteristics" - and hated women.

Undeveloped photographs

When they examined George's flat, police found more than 2,000 undeveloped photographs of 419 different women he had followed around London and secretly photographed.

They also found a stash of gun magazines and a photograph of George wearing a gas mask and posing with a pistol.

Miss Dando
Miss Dando was found dead on her doorstep
Passing the mandatory life sentence, Mr Justice Gage told George: "You are unpredictable and dangerous... There can be no doubt that it was premeditated involving some planning ... Why you did it will never be known."

George, who spent the first night of his sentence in Belmarsh Prison, will be assessed to determine what category prisoner he will be, and then moved to one of five prisons.

An independent inquiry into the murder has been set up by Ealing, Hammersmith and Hounslow Health Authority, with Hammersmith and Fulham Council and the Department of Health, and is expected to publish a report by the end of the year.

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