The jury that convicted Barry George of murdering the TV presenter Jill Dando was misled by a microscopic speck of gunfire residue of “zero” importance, three Court of Appeal judges were told yesterday.
George, now 47, was in court to hear argument on his behalf that too much weight was placed during his 2001 Old Bailey trial on the significance of the finding of a single particle on his coat following his arrest.
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, Lord Justice Leveson and Mr Justice Simon are being asked to rule that George’s conviction is “unsafe” in the light of fresh scientific evidence.
His QC, William Clegg, told the court that new expert evidence relating to the finding of the speck of firearm discharge residue (FDR) – which was “one two-thousandth of an inch in size” – found that it was “inconclusive” and could offer no help to a jury in assessing guilt. Mr Clegg told the packed court: “Although there was clearly other important evidence in addition to the FDR, the effect of neutralising the FDR evidence must be to render the conviction unsafe.”
It is George’s second appeal over a jury’s verdict that he shot the BBC news, Crimewatch and Holiday presenter on the steps of her home in Fulham in 1999.
George was sentenced to life in July 2001 after being found guilty by a majority of 10 to one. The hearing was adjourned until 2pm today.