Jill Dando loved her job as a television presenter for the BBC’s Crimewatch. But in April 1999, she became the victim of a crime herself, when she was shot dead outside her home. A man was wrongfully jailed for her murder. So who really killed the TV star?
Even at a young age, Jill Dando was destined for big things. Head Girl at her school, she went onto university to study journalism.
After working at her local paper and radio station, in 1988 she began working as a television presenter for BBC News. Hardworking, and loved by viewers, Jill soon landed a job presenting BBC’s Crimewatch in 1995.
Her career was at its peak. And her personal life was on a high too. In January 1999 she got engaged to gynaecologist, Alan Farthing. The couple planned their wedding for that September.
But on 25 April 1999, Jill’s life was cruelly snatched away. She’d just arrived at her home in Fulham, London, after spending time at her fiancé’s home in Chiswick.
It was broad daylight as she reached her front door, and was shot once in the head. Her body was discovered around 14 minutes later by a neighbour. Jill, then 37, was rushed to Charing Cross hospital, but she was declared dead on arrival.
Forensic investigations found she’d been shot by a 9mm caliber automatic pistol, with the gun pressed against her head at the moment she was shot. Pressing the gun against her head would have silenced the fatal shot and prevented her killer from being splattered with blood.
Police struggled to find any evidence leading to her killer. Though they believed her murder was the work of a deranged fan . In May 2000, Barry George, who lived locally to Jill, was arrested and charged with her murder. He had a history of stalking women and anti-social behaviour.
Police believed he’d stalked Jill before killing her outside her home. Prosecutors claimed he was obsessed with celebrities and guns. The following year he was found guilty of murder and jailed for life. The murder of Jill Dando had been solved…or had it?
George maintained his innocence and lodged an appeal against his conviction, but it was denied. He didn’t give up though and eventually, in June 2008, a retrial began. His defence argued he had an IQ in the lowest five per cent of the population and therefore wasn’t capable of such a sophisticated killing. The following month, after eight years in prison, he was cleared of the journalist’s murder.
But it put Jill’s murder under the spotlight once more. If George hadn’t killed her, who had?
To date, the crime still hasn’t been solved. It led to widespread speculation. One theory was she was targeted as part of a revenge crime for a story she investigated on Crimewatch. Others believed she’d been the victim of a professional assassin, hired by someone who wanted her dead.
Another suggested she’d been killed by the Serbian Mafia in revenge for the Nato-led bombing of a TV station. Jill had fronted a TV appeal for Kosovan-Albanian refugees just weeks before her death, which is believed to have enraged Serb paramilitaries.
The case remains open. Though who killed the TV presenter and why, still remains a mystery…