Justice for Barry George 01st August 2008
Barry George - who spent seven years in jail because of an invisible speck of dust he could have picked up anywhere - has been cleared of killing TV presenter Jill Dando.
She was shot dead on her doorstep in April 1999.
Scientists matched the particle found in the pocket of his cashmere overcoat to firearms residue combed from Dando's hair.
It put George at the scene - and helped convict him of the horrific murder.
But when his lawyers fought to remove the evidence from the prosecution case there was nothing to link him directly to the shooting - and today he walked free after a second trial.
George, 48, was many things - a loner, a military-obsessed fantasist, a stalker who followed women through West London on roller skates and a sex offender.
But the jury found he was not a killer.
The celebrity's family may now have to accept the real murderer of TV's 'Golden Girl' has escaped justice.
Jill Dando was one of the most popular presenters on television.
Born in Weston-super-Mare on November 9, 1961, to father Jack and mother Jean, she became a presenter for BBC Breakfast News with Nicholas Witchell in 1988 and began reading the Six O'Clock News.
After four years at Breakfast News she went to the Holiday programme where she was working until she died.
In 1997 she started presenting Crimewatch and at the time of her death had completed a series of a new show 'The Antiques Inspectors' which was shown posthumously after consultation with Miss Dando's family.
Police initially believed the murder was an execution by a professional hitman who forced her to her knees before shooting her through the head.
The theory was those responsible had suffered as a result of a Crimewatch appeal.
More than 5,000 people were interviewed and over 2,400 statements were taken in a massive police operation.
They identified 2,000 suspects and 140 had an unhealthy interest in Miss Dando.
George was arrested a year into the investigation as detectives considered all their initial leads again.
Inquiries quickly revealed he was obsessed with guns and on the day after the killing he had asked workers at a local charity for an alibi.
Police found a now-infamous picture of George wearing a gas mask and clutching a pistol, his eyes shining with excitement.
George who was born in Hammersmith, west London, just down the road from Miss Dando's Fulham home on April 15, 1960, regularly posed as an SAS soldier, pretended to be a professional stuntman and insisted he was the cousin of Freddie Mercury.
He was once found hiding in the grounds of Kensington Palace wearing a balaclava and carrying a knife, a poem to Prince Charles stashed in the pocket of his combat fatigues.
Friends and neighbours spoke of him carrying out 'SAS' style raids on their homes bursting in wearing army fatigues, a balaclava and clutching a pistol.
And his fixation with the military and celebrities was a key strand in the circumstantial evidence against George.
During the police investigation 14 women came forward to tell how George had terrorised them over a 15 year period from the mid 1980s to shortly before his arrest.
Susan Coombes, Angela Gordon, Margaret Milorthollard, Sophia Wellington, Amanda Scriven, Claudia Casey, Elke Anderson, Fiona Maffeo, Alena Murcott, Sarah Andrew. Robin Kadrinka, Cherree Yanthnarian, Deborah Crosby, Rachel Youngman were all targeted by George.
He stalked women noting down their addresses and number plates before following them home and photographing them for his own private collection.
Police discovered hundreds of rolls of film when they raided George's home containing more than 2,000 photos of women. Most were unaware they were being photographed.
Neighbour Susan Mayes said she had seen George pretending to clean a car windscreen as he stared at Miss Dando's home hours before the murder.
She picked out George in a video parade 18 months after she saw him but was the only witness to positively identify him at the scene.
During his police interviews George contradicted himself and told a series of lies.
He denied an interest in weapons and insisted he would not even recognise Jill Dando.
But it was the scientific evidence which detectives believe proved they had the right man.
The particle removed from the three quarter length coat contained quantities of barium, aluminium and lead which matched quantities of the elements recovered from the body.
It was described as 'compelling evidence' of George's guilt at the first trial and the chances it could have been transferred accidentally were said to be 'negligible.'
On July 29 2002 the Court of Appeal dismissed George's first appeal, which challenged the identification evidence.
But after a second hearing on November 15, 2007 the Court of Appeal concluded the jury at the first trial should have been given a further direction about the conclusions which could be drawn from the firearms residue and the possibility of accidental contamination.
At the retrial Mr Justice Griffith Williams ruled the firearms evidence was inadmissible. He said the residue could have come from the rise in gun crime and armed police on the streets of London.
The judge agreed with forensic experts who claimed George could have picked up the speck on London Underground or a local bus.
He said: 'There is no statistical evidence to support the conclusion that the particle was more likely to have come from the gun that show Miss Dando than from innocent contamination.'
Before the trial actually started one senior detective privately admitted the residue evidence was crucial and 'a wheel had come off' the case.
Even if Susan Mayes was correct and George was outside the house on the morning of the murder it would have taken a huge leap of faith by a jury to convict him without the evidence of the firearms residue.
Since George's conviction the murder has spawned a series of theories, counter theories and several books.
One possible suspect was a sinister fan who identified himself as 'Julian' who approached Miss Dando days before she died.
He was around 5ft 11 inches tall, wearing a suit, with straight dark hair, collar length - a similar description to that of the killer.
Nigel Dando also told police her sister had been concerned about 'some guy pestering her.'
The presenter had received hate mail just weeks before she died following a BBC Kosovo appeal in 1998.
Michael Mansfield, QC, used the mail for his bizarre 'headline grabbing' defence in the first trial, suggesting the celebrity was murdered by Serbian warlord called Arkan.
Tragically for Jill Dando and her family, the truth will probably never be known.