Barry George, the man found guilty of killing TV presenter Jill Dando in 1999 has been found not guilty following a retrial of the case. George had an initial appeal for a retrial rejected in 2002, but a subsequent appeal in November 2007 led to his conviction being quashed. A retrial began on 9th of June with Mr Justice Griffith Williams ruling out evidence that a single particle of firearms discharge residue was found in the pocket of Mr George’s coat. The single particle was key to the prosecutions case, but when it was revealed that it could have come from another source- the case against George collapsed.
Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Hilary Bradfield said it was right to bring the case, despite the not-guilty verdict after an eight-week trial.
“Mr George now has the right be regarded as an innocent man but that does not mean it was wrong to bring the case,” she said. “Our test is always whether there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction — it would be wholly wrong to only bring cases where we were guaranteed a conviction.”
In September 2006, BBC’s Panorama team investigated the evidence against Mr George in the Dando trial and found that it rested on a single piece of forensic evidence. It was revealed by firearms residue expert Professor Marco Morin, the single particle taken from Barry George’s coat may not have even come from a gun. He says it should not have been introduced as evidence.
A juror spoke publicly for the first time of her feelings about the guilty verdict reached in July 2001 during the Panorama investigation. Juror Janet Herbert says: “I just felt shocked that on that little evidence anybody could be locked away for the rest of their life.”
In a statement read by his solicitor outside court he said he was “overwhelmed” by the verdict, and thanked his family, his legal and medical teams and his supporters across the UK.
His solicitor Jeremy Moore said: “He is absolutely delighted but this is not a time for celebration. He has spent eight years in custody for a crime he did not commit and those years could have been spent trying to find the person responsible for the murder.”