Relatives to attend retrial in Dando murder case

CORK and Limerick relatives of Barry George who is accused of murdering TV presenter Jill Dando, will travel to the Old Bailey on June 3, when a retrial ordered by the court of appeal is due to commence.

The Court of Appeal in London quashed the 2001 conviction of Mr George after the Criminal Cases Review Commission undermined a fundamental piece of evidence.

His uncle and aunt who live in Limerick and Cork have been campaigning for his release. Mr George was not given bail pending the new trial.

The Forensic Science Service has agreed that a trace of gunshot residue found in the pocket of George’s coat was not damning evidence that he had shot the TV presenter. They deemed it “neutral” and said it could have come from anywhere and was of no value in court.

During the 2001 trial, the speck was described as “compelling evidence of guilt” and helped sentence George to life. Thechairman of the Criminal Cases Review Commission said last June that too much weight had been placed on this evidence.

Professor Graham Zellick said: “It isn’t incriminating. It is of almost no evidential value at all.”

Barry George’s uncle Michael Bourke who lives in Co Limerick has always insisted his nephew was innocent and visits him regularly in prison.

Jill Dando, 37, the presenter of Crimewatch UK and other BBC programmes was found slumped on the doorstep of her house in southwest London in April 1999 after being shot once in the head. Barry George who lived about a half a mile from her home in Gowan Avenue, Fulham, was jailed for life in 2001 and lost an appeal a year later.

In 2006 the FSS in Britain re-examined the importance of trace evidence and issued new guidelines. Under these the speck would no longer be regarded as crucial.

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