This week saw the successful appeal in one of the biggest and most publicised case in UK legal history. The murder of TV presenter Jill Dando 9 years ago was a massive event, not least from the (tenuous) links to that of Princess Diana before her, but also the coldness and clinical nature of the crime – shot through the head on her doorstep.
Barry George, a loner and fantastist (he claimed to be called Bulsara – Freddie Mercury’s family name – and that he was related to the star) was convicted of the crime on the basis of his apparent obsession with Dando, guns and fame, and on a speck of gunpowder found in his pocket. The media circus that surrounded the case, shameful and rabid, seemed to gloss over the concern of the lack of evidence at the time. The public demanded a result and demanded it quickly.
Now, following the successful appeal, where a jury decided that George, a man with an IQ in the bottom 5% of the UK, could not have planned and executed such a detailed plan to murder Dando and escape almost undetected, the usual arguments with pro-death penalty lobby continue.
While the possibility exists of someone being wrongly convicted of a crime, and in this case, almost 9 years later being freed, then we cannot permit state murder. And while George is far from a model citizen (admitting that he was stalking other women at the time) he was not a murderer. Anyone that wished to see him executed for a crime he did not commit and still campaigns for it in Britain is not someone I would want to be in a position of power. It’s depressing that the issue will never go away, and that cases such as this seem to cause barely a dent in the steamrollering beliefs of those that believe the death penalty is an acceptable action. Not in my country it isn’t.