Case: Death of a Celebrity: The Murder of Jill Dando
Jill Dando
Case unsolved
Status: Unsolved
Categories: Uncategorised
Case synopsis:

There were no witnesses to the killing. Nobody heard a shot. Jill Dando, one of the most recognised faces on British TV, scarcely had time to utter a startled cry.

She was found slumped on the doorstep at 29 Gowan Avenue in Fulham, southwest London, just before 11.47am on Monday April 26, 1999. There was a single bullet wound to the left side of her head and a bruise on her forearm.

Jill Dando, the 37 year-old presenter of BBC's Crimewatch, was pronounced dead on arrival at Charing Cross Hospital at 1.03pm. Her murder remains unsolved to this day.

Analysis of the wound and the scene revealed she had been forced down so that her head nearly touched the tiled step, a 9mm calibre converted pistol pressed against her temple and fired.

The next-door neighbour, Richard Hughes, had heard Jill Dando arrive in her blue convertible BMW, the sound of the car alarm being primed, her footsteps up the path, a scream of surprise and the clanging of the gate. When he looked out of the window he saw a tall white man of around 6ft walking away, but thought nothing of it. It was another 14 minutes before another neighbour came across the body.

29 Gowan AvenueThe bullet that killed Jill Dando

The front door of 29 Gowan Avenue, the bullet casing (top right) and the bullet that killed Jill Dando

Two hours earlier Jill Dando had left the home of her fiancee Dr Alan Farthing in Bedford Close, Chiswick. She was no longer living in Gowan Avenue and had put it on the market. Her visit there was apparently only to refill the paper in her fax machine or pick up mail.

On her journey there she visited a BP garage on Great West Road, the King's Mall shopping centre in Hammersmith (to buy a fax machine cartridge from Dixons and fax paper from Ryman's), and Copes Seafood Company in Fulham Road (two fillets of Dover Sole). CCTV cameras showed she left the fishmonger's at 11.26am. There was no indication she was being followed.

CCTV of Jill Dando shopping minutes before her murder

CCTV footage of Jill Dando shopping in Hammersmith minutes before her murder

It was over a year before a suspect was charged: Barry George lived half a mile away at 2b Crookham Road and had a history of following women. Sixteen years earlier he had been found in the grounds of Kensington Palace wearing a balaclava and carrying a knife, a length of rope and a poem to Prince Charles.

The case against him relied on a single particle of firearms residue found in the pocket of his Cecil Gee cashmere jacket, a witness who claimed to have seen him standing opposite Jill Dando's home on the day of the murder, George's comments to people after the shooting, and alleged lies in interview.

George was found guilty of murder and jailed for life on April 2, 2001, but the conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal on November 15, 2007. At the retrial the firearms residue was ruled inadmissible and George was acquitted on August 1, 2008.

One theory raised at the trial that Jill Dando was targeted by a Serbian hitman. The widow of a Serbian journalist says her husband was killed in similar circumstances 15 days earlier. (Mail Online - Jill Dando was murdered by Serbian hitman)

A reinvestigation by police in 2009 did not produce any new breakthroughs or new suspects.

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