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EDITIONS
Monday, 29 July, 2002, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Evidence that convicted star's killer
Jill Dando was the victim of a man with an obsession

It was so small it was invisible to the naked eye.

A single speck of residue from the gun used to kill Jill Dando was found in the pocket of the coat worn by Barry George.

The particle was a perfect match with others found in the TV presenter's hair - "compelling" evidence, according to the Crown.

Forensic scientists also found a single strand of fibre from George's trousers that proved he had been in contact with his victim.

There were also eye witnesses who saw George close to the presenter's home in Fulham in the hours before she was killed.

Inexplicable

Taken together, the jury was told, these strands of evidence showed that Barry George must have been the killer.

But why this disturbed man, with a history of psychological problems, decided to shoot Jill Dando is still unclear.

Bullet casing
The fatal shot: clues from the cartridge case
Three years on, the crime seems as inexplicable as the day her body was found on the doorstep of her home in West London.

In court, Jill Dando was described as "the face of the BBC".

She achieved fame presenting news programmes, and went on to become one of the nation's favourite broadcasters in series like Crimewatch and the Holiday programme.

She was a young woman with a zest for life, and seemingly without an enemy in the world.

Yet as she returned home in broad daylight, Barry George shot her in the head in the manner of a professional assassin.

Cold-blooded

It was one of a small number of crimes that can truly be said to have stunned the nation.

The Queen expressed her sympathy and rewards totalling 250,000 were offered for the capture of the killer.

The theories
A Serbian hitman seeking revenge for Nato's bombing of TV station
An underworld contract killing to silence the voice of Crimewatch
An obsessive fan who wanted to be close to her
Because of the cold-blooded nature of the crime, it was thought the TV presenter could have been the target of a hitman.

It was suggested her death was a reprisal for the Nato attack on a TV station in Belgrade. It was noted that she had fronted an appeal for Kosovan refugees.

According to another theory, the killer was hired by someone in the underworld, upset over Jill's work with the Crimewatch programme.

Both ideas seemed incredible. But despite all the publicity surrounding the case, detectives had little to go on.

There was never any doubt about the public's desire to help catch the killer. Criminals contacted detectives to say they were sure the killing was not the work of a hit man.

Obsession

Clairvoyants and psychics offered advice to Scotland Yard. But one year after Jill's death, the police appeared no closer to catching her killer.

Detectives focused on the possibility that the murder was the work of an obsessive fan who had been stalking her.

Barry George
Barry George: "Compelling evidence" of his guilt
They identified people who had an "unhealthy interest" in the television presenter.

A psychologist helped to draw up a profile of the killer. It pointed to Barry George, who lived just half a mile from Jill Dando's home.

When the police searched his flat, they found it strewn with papers and magazines that showed him to have a fascination with guns, celebrities, and the BBC.

Detectives found copies of the BBC's in-house newspaper, published after Jill's murder, and featuring her picture on the front page.

He had learned about weapons after enlisting in the Territorial Army, and had also spent time at a local pistol club.

After nearly four days of questioning, he was charged with the murder of Jill Dando.

Appeal

At the trial, George's lawyers tried to discredit the scientific evidence, and argued that the Crown had failed to establish a motive for the crime. The jury thought otherwise, and decided by a majority of ten to one that he was guilty.

Key evidence against Barry George
His interest in celebrities and the BBC
Fascination with guns
Traces of gunfire residue on his coat
A fibre from his trousers at crime scene
Seen near Jill's home before shooting

In the Court of Appeal, they argued that identification evidence was inadmissible, which meant that the trial should have been halted.

Michael Mansfield QC said his client had made no admissions and no confessions. There was no fingerprint, footprint or DNA evidence, and the conviction was unsafe.

But the Crown said the jury had been perfectly entitled to reach the "safe conclusion" that George had murdered Jill Dando.

The trial, they said, had been conducted fairly by the judge, and there was no "lurking doubt" in this case. There was no reason to interfere with the verdict of the jury.

This was a difficult case for the Metropolitan Police. The public's desire for the killer to be brought to justice placed enormous pressure on the force.

There was satisfaction last year that the lengthy investigation ended with a conviction, although it was clear that an appeal would soon follow.

Now with the decision by the Appeal Court to uphold Barry George's conviction, the police and the family of Jill Dando will be hoping the case is now finally closed.

See also:

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


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