Barry George was fantasist who kept pictures of TV stars, retrial told
Tuesday 10 June 2008
The man accused of killing Jill Dando was an obsessive fantasist who kept photos of other television presenters including Anthea Turner and Emma Freud in his flat, a court heard.
As Barry George stood trial for the second time for the murder of the Crimewatch presenter, the Old Bailey was told he had kept 4,000 undeveloped pictures of women at his Fulham home, among them images of the presenters Emma Freud, Caron Keating and Fiona Foster. Mr George denies murder.
The jury, which was shown an album of 150 pictures that had been found in his apartment, was also told he regularly stalked young women, following them home and pestering them. One was so terrified she jumped into a stranger's car, it was claimed.
Ms Dando, 39, was shot on the doorstep of her home in west London almost a decade ago. Arriving at her front door on 26 April 1999, she was forced to the floor and shot in the head. She was found heavily bleeding and died in hospital just over an hour later.
The country was shocked by the death of the presenter of popular BBC shows such as Crimewatch and Holiday.
Yesterday, as Mr George's retrial got underway, the jury was told it was he who had lain in wait for Ms Dando. It heard that Mr George had a fixation with the BBC – having worked as a messenger there for five months in 1976 – and had even approached a staff member at a bus stop.
Jonathan Laidlaw QC, for the prosecution, said Mr George's passion for guns and his habit of stalking women marked him out as "sinister". Those features, as well as his obsession with female presenters to the point of taking photographs of them on his TV, his deluded claim he was a cousin of the Queen singer Freddie Mercury and his dislike of the BBC all combined to form a "compelling case".
Mr George, 48, sat in the dock at the Old Bailey's court No 1 flanked by a clinical psychologist and three security guards. He listened as Mr Laidlaw explained that the defendant was a man with psychological problems – a self-proclaimed "mild personality disorder" – who had a number of bizarre fixations.
He had adopted the name Bulsara, Freddie Mercury's real surname, and claimed repeatedly to be his cousin. In earlier years, he had changed his name to Paul Gadd aka Gary Glitter and later Steve Majors – an amalgamation of the actor Lee Majors and his character Steve Austin in The Six Million Dollar Man. He had tracked down the birth and marriage certificates of an SAS veteran of the Iranian embassy siege and Falklands conflict and adopted his name, Thomas Palmer.
The jury was told to consider the bizarre actions of Mr George. "They raise the question: had the defendant's fascination with female presenters combined with Miss Dando's link with the BBC, and his belief that that organisation had treated Mercury badly, resulted in this irrational plan to kill?" said Mr Laidlaw.
The eight women and four men of the jury were given an album of photographs to flick through, pictures of women he had pursued over the years. The jury heard that Mr George would wait for his targets, then approach them and tell them he "knew where they lived".
"Whilst others in the Fulham area might have regarded the defendant as a lonely, harmless individual there is evidence of a more sinister aspect to his pursuit of women. This must have involved him, on at least one occasion, in a form of stalking," said Mr Laidlaw.
Yesterday as they began what is expected to be a seven-week trial, both the prosecution and judge the Hon Justice Griffith Williams, told the jury not to be swayed by any previous media coverage or wild speculation which had surrounded the case over many intervening years.
The trial continues.
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