Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Twisted Mind of Killer Who Craved Celebrity; Jill Dando's Killer Barry George Has at Least Six Personality Disorders. Finding a Motive May Be beyond the Rational Mind,

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Twisted Mind of Killer Who Craved Celebrity; Jill Dando's Killer Barry George Has at Least Six Personality Disorders. Finding a Motive May Be beyond the Rational Mind,

Article excerpt


THE fame for which Barry George hungered is finally his. The killer of Jill Dando woke in a solitary cell at Belmarsh Prison today to find himself the most notorious man in Britain, at the top of every news bulletin, on every front page. The place at the centre of attention, once occupied by the heroes and celebrities with whom he was obsessed, now belongs to him. As the Dando file is closed, could this at last be the motive that eluded police for so long? "Why you did it will never be known," Mr Justice Gage told George at the Old Bailey yesterday as he sentenced him to life imprisonment.

Certainly, it is impossible to understand why a stranger, without apparent reason, should force a woman like Ms Dando to her knees on her own doorstep and end her life with a bullet in the back of the head. But the most significant element of this crime, as the detectives who investigated it quickly found, is that it defied all the usual rules of logic. The murder was full of contradictions, it consistently failed to match any recognisable pattern. It was unfathomable - just like Barry George.

Most killers have a motive. George had impulses. And the urge that drove him hardest was the lust for celebrity, a craving for a closeness to people he became obsessed by. Many of those who knew George have said he was not capable of murder.

"It was somebody else. It could not have been him. I will not believe it," his former wife Itsuko Toide said. She returned to live in her native Japan after her marriage to George broke down after a year. They married in 1989; within months he was beating her senseless.

According to her she was raped when she refused him sex and on one occasion she needed hospital treatment after he cut her right leg. Twice she called police to protect her from George. Yet she refuses to believe he is a murderer. Could it be, like others who doubt his guilt, she is applying rational thinking to a man whose mental processes are probably far beyond normal understanding?

Indeed, who can comprehend Barry George's motive for anything he did? This was a man who collected images of people with whom he had formed some kind of unilateral bond. He hoarded photographs of the Princess of Wales, something that, of itself, may appear harmless.

But George was also stalking the Princess, noting down the registration numbers of cars she used, waiting hour after hour near Kensington Palace for a glimpse of her.

Again, this does not necessarily suggest evil intent. But what of the knife, the rope and the combat gear he had when police found him hiding in bushes outside the late Princess's London home? What would have happened if they had not discovered him?

Barry George, at the age of 41, had at least six separate personality disorders.

The experts now say he should have been treated from an early age. Michael Howlett, director of the Zito Trust which campaigns for reform of the procedures that apply to mental patients, believes opportunities to rein George in were missed.

"He should not have been out in the community," he said. "As an adult he had a criminal record involving numerous offences of aggression and violence towards women, culminating in the brutal murder of Jill Dando.

"We know he has a complex series of personality disorders. This suggests he should have received specialist therapeutic treatment early on in his life. This may never have happened if Barry George had access to proper services."

His mother Margaret George has, understandably, joined the chorus of voices that say he was not capable of murder. Yet what did she really know of her son? She admits that after his father Alfred left the family's west London home Barry was "devastated" and that she was unable to cope with him. He was sent to a special school as a boarder and when he left was unemployable.

TESTS showed he had an IQ of less than 80, which suggested someone of exceptionally low ability. …

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