true crime

Jill Dando was the ‘golden girl of British TV.’ In broad daylight, she was killed on her doorstep.

Jill Dando was reaching for her front door when she was shot once in the head.

It was 11:32am on April 26, 1999 and she had just left her fiance’s home in Chiswick.

The 37-year-old, often referred to as the 'golden girl of the BBC', was found 14 minutes later by her neighbour. By the time she arrived at Charing Cross Hospital, she was declared dead.

Dando was a household name, presenting a program called Crimewatch, which reconstructed unsolved crimes in an attempt to garner interest from the public and produce new leads.

She likely did not suspect that one day it would be her own murder reenacted, in a desperate attempt to solve one of the most baffling crimes in living memory.

What made Dando’s murder especially complicated was that she had enemies. Lots of them.

Her career as an investigative journalist meant she knew things she was not supposed to. She had connections to the police through her work on Crimewatch, which perhaps made her a target for the IRA.

A former colleague of Dando's told police that she was trying to expose a paedophile ring in the months before her murder.

The source said: "I don't recall the names of all the stars and don't want to implicate anyone, but Jill said they were surprisingly big names."

Was this a desperate attempt to keep Dando quiet?

Some theorised it had been a representative of the Bosnian-Serb or Yugoslav groups, retaliating against Dando's media appeals to send aid during the Yugoslav Wars.


Then there was a man widely referred to as 'Joe' the Spanish barman. Could this have been an act of revenge?

After a Crimewatch appeal, a man named Kenneth Noye was sentenced to life in prison for a road rage killing which took place in 1996. Noye and 'Joe', it was believed, were linked.

Or could this be the work of a stalker, utterly obsessed with Dando?

Her brother, Nigel, told detectives that she had referred to "some guy pestering her" in the lead up to her death.

Police explored all these leads, and landed at a dead end.

The facts were known and relatively uncomplicated.

At a few minutes past 10am, a postman remembers seeing a man with dark hair and dressed in a suit watching him intently. Witnesses also remember seeing a blue Range Rover parked illegally.

Over an hour later, Dando returned home to Fulham. She was grabbed from behind, according to police, and forced to the ground. The perpetrator then fired a single shot into her left temple.

Two witnesses recall seeing a man wearing a black jacket running from Dando's house in the moments after her murder.

Ten minutes later, a man was seen crouching in a park, speaking on a phone. He then ran into traffic crossing Dando's street, but escaped unharmed.

CCTV captured a blue Range Rover speeding away from the crime scene, down Fulham Palace Road.


The police knew the details of what happened. But who was responsible?

After the murder, around 2000 people were named as potential suspects.

Barry George had a history of sexual offences, stalking, and a variety of antisocial tendencies.

He also lived about 800 metres from Dando's home.

After 12 months of thorough police investigations, with very little progress, they turned their attention to the failed musician who was known for 'attention seeking' behaviour.

Inside his home, police found a jacket with gunpowder in the pocket. This would be used as forensic evidence.

They also came across a photo of George in a mask, holding a pistol.

These two pieces of evidence were enough to convict George of Dando's murder in July 2001. He was sentenced to life in prison.

But eight years later, after a retrial, George walked out of a courtroom an innocent man.

The gunpowder was deemed inadmissible as evidence because the particle found in his pocket could not be properly identified. Some claim the jacket had been cross-contaminated by police working on the case.

The case has been reopened again in Netflix’s three-part docuseries Who Killed Jill Dando? which submits a range of new and old theories. 

The series rules out her ex-boyfriend Bob Wheaton and agent Jon Roseman as suspects, instead reiterating the theory she was killed in retaliation for raising awareness for refugees affected by the Kosovo War.


The theory suggested that the murder of Dando was in response to the NATO bombing of a state TV station in Serbia. 

In the days following the murder, the BBC was contacted several times by people claiming to have been involved in her murder. However, this theory was ruled out in the docuseries because there were only three days between the station bombing and Dando's death, which didn’t seem like enough time to plan and execute a high-profile assassination.

A more convincing theory is one which claimed her murder was planned by a drug gang. The police frequently spoke to an informant known as Mr. James, who gave the names of possible suspects. But ultimately, it came out that they couldn’t be trusted. 

"It became clear he was seeking to blame others for Jill Dando's murder, hoping that they would be arrested to release him from the pressure he was under for his own drugs work," said police detective Hamish Campbell in the Netflix series.

Then there’s the ‘sweating man’, an individual seen before and after Dando’s murder. 

Witnesses described him as a white male with short dark hair wearing a suit. He was spotted running on Fulham Palace Road and talking on the phone at a bus stop near Dando's home on Gowan Avenue in Fulham. 

This man has never been formally identified. 

But her brother Nigel has his own theory. Speaking to the BBC, he said that he’s started to consider that his sister was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. 


"My theory, which I had before this documentary and more so since I've seen a greater insight into the police investigation, is that it was just someone who was in that street who may or may not have known that she lived there, who was armed at the time, who may have recognised her, who perhaps thought he or she could get five minutes of notoriety by shooting her,” he said. 

"And that is my view as to what happened, no matter how odd and strange people may think that is, it's certainly one of the theories that's abounded; that Jill was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Over 20 years later, Dando's murder, which took place outside her home in broad daylight, remains unsolved.

The case was investigated BBC documentary The Murder of Jill Dando in 2019, as detective Hamish Campbell admitted that the case may never be solved.

"Do I think somebody will come back to court? Probably not, no," Campbell admitted in the documentary.

"I would like to see somebody charged and convicted," Nigel said in the documentary.

"I would just like to know, why someone would want to kill her."

This article was originally published on November 1, 2018 and has since been updated with new information.

Feature image: Netflix. 

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