Friday, 1 August 2008

Didn't do Dando

The main argument in the defence of Bruce George during his trials and appeals has concerned the forensic evidence attached to a fragment found in one of his jackets. If it could be tied into him, it established that he had fired a weapon whilst dressed in that coat. The defence claimed cross contamination and suggested that the particle came from a police firearms officer who may have come into contact with the jacket after a training session. No identification was made by defence of this officer or anything that confirmed the opportunity of contamination. The police insisted there was no dirty officer. They were faced with proving a negative.

Doctors who examined George after his arrest diagnosed an impressive array of psychiatric disorders: psychopathic personality, narcissistic personality, histrionic personality, paranoid personality and Asperger’s Syndrome (a disorder linked to autism).

As a boy he was diagnosed as suffering from attention hyperactivity disorder. George was also diagnosed as having somatisation disorder and concurrent factitious disorder.The interesting thing about these diagnoses is thatthey relate to personality traits which could innocently explain every part of George’s supposedly suspicious behaviour both before and after the Dando murder. A psychopathic personality is prone to lying and using aliases. A narcissistic personality is one who urgently seeks attention and admiration and has a heightened sense of self-importance. A histrionic personality will imagine they have a well developed relationship with someone they do not know at all in a personal sense. A paranoid personality has obvious ramifications for George’s suspicion of the police. Asperger’s sufferers have major problems with personal relationships and a tendency to become obsessive. Finally, somatisation disorder and concurrent factitious disorder explained his imagined illnesses.

George’s fantasy world was one in which he sought satisfaction, and doubtless attention, by pretending to be someone glamorous or connected to someone glamorous or to have been in glamorous or sensational circumstances. At various times during the twenty years prior to the murder he has claimed to be Steve Majors (a name derived from Lee Majors and the character, Steve Austin, he played in the TV series The Bionic Man), an SAS soldier by the name of Thomas Palmer (an SAS soldier involved in the Iranian Embassy siege), Paul Gadd (the pop star Gary Glitter’s real name) and Freddie Mercury’s cousin (for which he used the name Barry Bulsara) to mention just a few. He has at various times also claimed to be in possession of a rocket propelled grenade launcher and to be able to roller skate over four double decker buses.

George did not merely have fantasies he acted them out. When he was pretending to be Freddie Mercury’s cousin, Barry Bulsara, he went to Mercury’s home after the singer’s death in a hired white limousine and left flowers outside the house. He then proceeded to sign autographs for a while, having persuaded mourning fans that he was related to Mercury.

In 1983 he was arrested by police in Kensington Gardens near to the Princess of Wales’ home, crouched in the bushes, dressed in pseudo military gear and equipped with a knife and rope.

The police arrested him but did not press charges, although they searched his flat. The Royal Protection Group (RPG) did however, list him as a potential threat to the Royal Family. An RPG member also suggested him to the team investigating the Rachel Nickell murder in 1992 as a possible suspect.

In 1985 George was living in a bed and breakfast hotel in Gloucester Road, West London. There he came to know a family by the name of Dobbins. After they moved to a flat in Fulham George called on them unexpectedly dressed in combat gear and a balaclava. Once in the hallway of the flat he produced a handgun and fired a blank shot. He showed the Dobbins’ son, David, the blank rounds in his pocket and then left.

A further example of his exhibitionistic and obsessive mentality comes from his medical history. George attended no less than eighteen different surgeries in West London at various times and was known as a “heart sink” patient because he was constantly coming in with imagined ailments.

So, a very sad figure. This was capitalised by his defence who queried how such a disabled character could plan and execute a murder. Juries will have felt sympathetic and any natural doubts and reluctance to bring in a guilty finding would have been heightened.

So - he is free. I have to revert to the way police minds worked in the early '70s when the reaction would have been "Maybe he didn't do Dando but he is certainly the sort of bloke better off behind bars anyway" I just hope that his incarceration has not pushed him further off the rails such that he reverts to his previous behaviour and someone gets hurt.

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