Jill Dando 'killed by celebrity-obsessed stalker'

Television presenter Jill Dando was killed by a celebrity-obsessed loner who stalked women, the Old Bailey heard today.

Barry George approached women in the area of west London where he and Miss Dando lived and tried to find out their addresses, it was alleged.

He had a fixation with celebrities and lived out his fantasy by pretending to be Queen singer Freddie Mercury's cousin, the court was told.

Miss Dando, 37, was shot in the head at close range as she arrived at her home in Gowan Avenue, Fulham, west London, in April 1999.

She had become one of the best known people on television, presenting the BBC news, Crimewatch and the Holiday programme.

George, 48, of Fulham, who was first tried for her killing in 2001, is facing a retrial. He denies murder.

Jonathan Laidlaw QC, prosecuting, said Miss Dando's death was the result of the actions of "a loner, a man acting alone with no rational motive to kill".

He added: "If she had been stalked in the Fulham area then she was not aware of it and she had certainly not been the target of any sort of sustained hate campaign."

The judge, Mr Justice Griffith Williams, told the eight women and four men on the jury that they should try the case only on the evidence they would hear in court.

George, wearing a blue shirt and tie, sat in the dock with clinical psychologist Dr Susan Young by his side.

The judge said: "The defendant suffers from epilepsy and has psychological problems which may make it difficult for him to follow the proceedings. She is there to assist him in that regard."

Mr Laidlaw said Weston-super-Mare-born Miss Dando was in a settled relationship and had been due to marry doctor Alan Farthing in September 1999.

He said George lived a few streets away from her, had a history of complex medical problems and had told police he had a "personality disorder".

Mr Laidlaw said: "He had a fixation with the famous and with celebrities.

"For many years he lived out the fantasy by calling himself after, and adopting the names of, various entertainers.

"He had pretended to be an SAS soldier and in the years immediately before Miss Dando's death he was pretending to be Freddie Mercury's cousin.

"The defendant appears also to have had a fascination with female TV personalities.

"He took photographs of female news presenters on his television and he had the names of numerous female celebrities written down on pieces of paper and lists at his home.

"His interest extended to the BBC. He would hang around the BBC offices at White City, had BBC cards in his possession and obtained numerous copies of Ariel, the BBC's staff publication.

"There was also an occasion when the defendant had expressed a dislike of the BBC because of the way he thought the organisation had treated his cousin, Freddie Mercury, as he described him."

Mr Laidlaw told the court George had allegedly taken hundreds of pictures of women.

He said: "There is another aspect to the defendant's obsessions and arising from his behaviour, which is of considerable relevance to Miss Dando's murder and in particular to how that was carried out.

"Over the course of many years the defendant, particularly but not exclusively in the area of Fulham, would approach women, engage them in conversation and then seek to discover where they lived and the vehicles they drove.

"He also took many hundreds of of photographs of women.

"Some of the witnesses provide evidence that Barry George, having discovered where they lived, also spent time waiting in the area of and observing their addresses.

"On occasions, that he was present outside watching when they arrived back at their homes.

"One in particular was entirely unaware of the defendant's interest in her until a document containing directions to her home was recovered at the defendant's address after his arrest."

Mr Laidlaw said the "obsessive aspects" of George's behaviour might provide clues to Miss Dando's death.

He added: "These provide a reason why he might have had an interest in Jill Dando and why he might have formed some irrational plan to kill her.

"They raise the question: had the defendant's fascination with female presenters, combined with Jill Dando's link with the BBC, and his belief that that organisation had treated Freddie Mercury badly, resulted in this irrational plan to kill?"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn