Joy for the woman who never gave up hope
Published 02/08/2008 | 11:13
As the verdict was read out in the Old Bailey's Court No 1 yesterday afternoon, it was met with inevitable gasps in the public gallery, but the relief of one woman in particular was almost tangible.
Wearing a bright pink jacket and floral dress, she punched the air and shouted "yes", before slumping forward in her chair and sobbing.
It was Michelle Diskin, Barry George's sister and tireless campaigner. Throughout her brother's murder trials, in 2001 and this year, she has sat in the public gallery every single day. Her bright jacket and floral-wear yesterday was no fashion statement: she has worn bright clothing and encouraged others to wear bright flowers in their lapels as a symbol of their support for her brother.
After Mr George was convicted at his first trial, the 51-year-old administrator, who has three teenage children, ran a high-profile campaign from her hometown of Ballincollig, Co Cork, entitled "Justice for Barry George" and argued that the evidence against him was circumstantial.
She admitted that her brother was what people would call an "oddball", but said that did not make him a murderer. She always maintained that he was too gentle to kill anyone; instead she says she thinks Jill Dando's real killer was a "cold and clinical" hitman. She had previously told Radio 4's Woman's Hour that she was convinced of her brother's innocence, saying: "I'm the one who's been visiting him. We can tell just by talking to him that he has had nothing to do with this. Also, there is no evidence to link him to any of this ... Nobody is able to say the person who I saw leaving the scene was Barry George."
She added that when he was convicted of attempted rape he said: "I'm really sorry I did that."
When her brother finally won the right to appeal in November 2007, Ms Diskin said that her family was treating it as a small step, adding: "We do not really feel that we have a victory. We do not have Barry." Yesterday, she got that victory.