Decision due on Dando murder conviction appeal

Barry George, the man jailed for life for the murder of TV presenter Jill Dando, will today find out if his appeal against conviction has succeeded.

Barry George, the man jailed for life for the murder of TV presenter Jill Dando, will today find out if his appeal against conviction has succeeded.

George, 42, who claims his conviction is ‘‘unsafe’’, was expected to be at the Court of Appeal in London to hear the ruling by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, sitting with Mr Justice Curtis and Mr Justice Henriques.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment in July last year after being found guilty of the April 1999 shooting of the 37-year-old BBC Crimewatch presenter on the steps of her home in Gowan Avenue, Fulham, south-west London.

George, from Crookham Road, Fulham, denied murder, but a jury at the Old Bailey, following deliberations of more than 30 hours, returned a guilty verdict by a majority of 10 to one.

His appeal centred on the crucial question of identification, with his lawyers arguing that his trial should have been halted because the majority of the evidence on that issue was inadmissible.

The second main area of the appeal was the scientific evidence.

George’s trial focused on a pivotal piece of forensic evidence, with the prosecution claiming that a single speck of firearms residue found in his coat pocket lining linked him to the shooting.

But his defence team said the particle - less than a half of a thousandth of an inch in size - was completely unreliable as evidence.

His counsel, Michael Mansfield QC, told the appeal court there was no fingerprint, footprint or DNA evidence against George.

Mr Mansfield also argued it was possible jurors might wrongly have continued deliberating on the guilt or innocence of George during their stay at a London hotel which could have given rise to a miscarriage of justice.

But Orlando Pownall QC, for the Crown, told the appeal judges that the jury had been ‘‘perfectly entitled to reach the safe conclusion’’ that George and no other murdered Miss Dando.

He said criticisms made of the handling of the case by trial judge Mr Justice Gage were ‘‘without foundation’’.

Mr Pownall rebutted claims that the conviction was unsafe because identification evidence used at the trial was inadmissible.

He said: ‘‘In the light of the compelling circumstantial and other evidence, it is further submitted that there is no basis whatsoever for this court to interfere with the jury’s verdict.’’

George’s sister Michelle Diskin was expected to attend London’s Law Courts for the appeal judges’ announcement.

His friends and supporters claim his conviction is a ‘‘miscarriage of British justice’’.

The murder of Miss Dando with a single bullet prompted the biggest police hunt of modern times.

The murder weapon was never found.

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