8/01/2008

Derek Bentley, Stefan Kiszko and now Barry George

The news that Barry George has been found not guilty of the murder of TV presenter Jill Dando is hardly a surprise and should be greeted by everyone with some knowledge of the case with relief, but also thanks that we do not have the death penalty in this country.

There appeared to be so many holes in the prosecutions case against Barry George, not least of which was the fact that nearly all the police accusations against him turned out to be false. I was going to list the flaws in the case again Barry George, but Nation of Shopkeepers does a far better job of listing the holes in the police better case than I could do.

What is a real worry though is that the police in this country still appear to have a fixation with building cases based finding the person with the lowest IQ making the evidence fit them.

Take Derek Bentley, a man with an IQ of only 68 who was executed by the state largely because he was unable to account for himself in an educated and coherent way.

Then look 20 years later at Stefan Kiszko, a man again with limited mental capacities, who was effectively fitted up by the police. Evidence was suppressed, the court case was nothing less than a show trial, and the incompetent defence team led by David Waddington (who later went on to be Home Secretary) and the prosecuting QC (Who later was to become chief Justice Taylor who wrote the Taylor report in to the Hillsborough disaster) did very well for themselves whilst Stefan Kiszko rotted in jail until he was let out after an appeal 17 years later.

Now, another 20 years later, the police seemingly cannot move on. Barry George, a man with low intellect, a criminal record and an IQ of 75, a man who could not even change the film in his own camera who even his own defence team described as a fantasist, was chosen by the police to be the criminal mastermind behind the perfect murder. The evidence, again, was made to fit the suspect, not the suspect fitting the evidence.

What we should all rejoice in though is that we do not have the death penalty. If we had, and there are those who still call for it, Barry George would almost certainly have been hanged by now. People who advocate the death penalty always say it would only be used in open and shut cases, where there is no doubt or where there is clear forensic evidence. This clear forensic evidence though was there in the first trial, only for it later to be shown to be flawed. Just like Guildford Four or any other number of cases, forensic evidence is not always to be trusted.

What needs to be addressed now is who really did kill Jill Dando. The case should be reopened and evidence should be properly examined, Sadly, with so much emphasis on getting the evidence to fit Barry George, the chances are that the real killer will never be caught now.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

The irony is that Jill Dando, through her Crimewatch work, was dedicated to the searching for and finding of real evidence and also working for justice.

Shamefully those values were let down by the police in the investigation in to her murder.

Gallimaufry said...

I think the wrongful conviction of Timothy Evans for the murder of his wife and daughter(actually done by John Christie) is a better example of wrongful conviction than Bentley. I read Ludovic Kennedy's excellent book on the case every time a particularly ghastly murderer prompts me to call for the restoration of the death penalty.

Anonymous said...

Barry George's defence counsel at the original trial was Mike Mansfield QC. Would he have done better with a proper lawyer defending him?

Norfolk Blogger said...

Similarly to the kizsko case, the defence councel seemed to be so unable to build a defence that they started a smoke and mirrors defence based around Serbian reprisals and ex cons being to blame.

Anonymous said...

I remember the original trial and thinking there seemed to be sod all evidence linking Barry George to the crime. Despite that Mike Mansfield ran with the "Serbs did it" defence which would surely have reeked of desperation to any jury. A far better defence would have been "a nutter did it but not this one" and to have spent more time poking holes in what little evidence there was.

Mind you I wouldn't risk Mansfield QC defending me from a speeding ticket !

Anonymous said...

I does not help when you have a reputation for defending the most guilty of criminals. I always associate him with defending terrorist.

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