Judge tells Dando jury not to feel pressurised

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The Independent Online

Jurors in the Jill Dando murder trial were told by the judge yesterday not to feel under pressure when they retire today to consider their verdict.

Mr Justice Gage said arrangements had been made for them to go to a hotel overnight if they did not reach a decision by the end of the day.

Barry George, 41, of Crookham Road, Fulham, south-west London, denies murdering Ms Dando on 26 April 1999. The television presenter was shot once through the head in the doorway of her home in Gowan Avenue, Fulham.

Mr Justice Gage warned jurors at the start of his summing-up on Monday at the Old Bailey to put out of their minds any feelings of emotion, sympathy or prejudice when deciding their verdict.

He said they should concentrate on the evidence they had heard in court with a "cool head and dispassionate view – use your own good judgement".

On the second day of his summing up, the judge recalled the evidence of Lenita Bailey who was called as a prosecution witness. She says she asked Mr George about the murder during a conversation at a hairdresser's near his home.

Ms Bailey said she asked Mr George three times if he killed Ms Dando, after he told her he had been seen by police in connection with the crime.

The first time she asked "she turned round and looked at him and he was looking at the floor and playing with his hands", said Mr Justice Gage. "Ms Bailey asked again, 'Did you kill Jill Dando?' But again there was no response. He then rocked in his chair," the judge went on.

"Asked a third time he just looked at the floor. His lips moved but nothing was said."

Mr Justice Gage told the jury: "You have to ask yourselves whether she was truthful and accurate in the evidence she has given."

He turned to the evidence of another prosecution witness, Sally Mason, who spoke to Mr George after the murder. The judge said: "She knew him as Superman because of the T-shirt he wore.

"He said he had been to the police station because he could help wrap up, meaning solve, the murder. She didn't take much notice of him and thought he was living in another world. She wrote off what he was saying as fantasy."

Mr Justice Gage told the jury: "It's for you to decide whether she was accurate in her recollection and whether it helps you in deciding any of the issues in the case."