Jill Dando death: was she shot by mafia hitman?

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The murder of TV presenter Jill Dando has remained unsolved for over 20 years since her death



<p>Jill Dando was shot dead outside her home in 1999.  Image: PA</p><div data-ad-id=
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Jill Dando was shot dead outside her home in 1999. Image: PA

Crimewatch presenter Jill Dando was a household name and one of the BBC’s most recognizable stars when she was shot dead outside her home more than 20 years ago.

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The murder of the 37-year-old on April 26, 1999 in Fulham, west London, shook the country.

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Barry George was arrested on suspicion of murder in 2000, a year after Miss Dando was killed.

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He was found guilty and sentenced to eight years in prison, then acquitted and released after a retrial.

Since then, Miss Dando’s murder has remained unsolved despite a high-profile investigation.

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New allegations have surfaced that she may have been accidentally killed by a hitman who was targeting another journalist.

But what happened to the BBC journalist, was she shot by a mafia hitman and who is Barry George? You need to know.

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Jill Dando was shot dead outside her home in 1999. Image: PA

What happened to Jill Dando?

On the morning of April 26, 1999, Mrs Dando was returning to her home in Fulham from her fiance Alan Farthing’s home in Chiswick.

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Just before 11:30 a.m., she was shot in the head as she reached her front door. Her body was found by a neighbor a short time later.

It was said the attacker grabbed her from behind and forced her to the ground before shooting at her, killing her instantly.

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Her murder sparked the largest criminal investigation since the search for the Yorkshire Ripper, led by the Met Police.

Miss Dando’s neighbor made the only sure sighting of the killer from his window, a six foot white male in his 40s.

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Jill Dando.

Was she killed by a mafia hitman?

According to reports received by a court in Paris, she was allegedly killed accidentally after a Russian hitman mistook her for another BBC journalist.

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Court filings allege that French fashion mogul Gerald Marie, who faces multiple counts of sexual assault, wanted BBC journalist Lisa Brinkworth to be “treated” for embarrassing his company.

However, the documents claim the hitman accidentally shot Jill Dando after mistaking her as a target.

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Lawyers have argued that the mix-up could stem from the similarities between the two. It was also established that Miss Dando’s fiancé was Mrs Brinkman’s doctor.

The Daily Mail reports that the lawyers in the documents are referring to a conversation witnessed by former elite executive Omar Harfouch in which Marie ordered a member of the Russian mafia “to deal with an issue”.

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According to the documents from the French law firm Bourdon Associes: “Shortly afterwards … a BBC journalist, Jill Dando, was shot dead in April 1999.

“In fact, these two journalists were in their 30s, blonde, with the same facial features, of the same height and similar build. They lived close together and had people in common, including Jill Dando’s husband.”

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Barry George.

Who is Barry George?

After a year of no progress in the investigation, police turned their attention to Barry George, who lived near Miss Dando’s home.

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He was arrested in 2000 and convicted in 2001 and acquitted after a retrial in 2008.

Miss Dando’s murder occurred during the Kosovo War, and the theory arose that a Serbian hitman was responsible.

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This was something the QC of Mr George’s defense argued during the 2001 trial. He said as the face of both the Kosovo Crisis Appeal and the BBC, Ms Dando could have been the target of a revenge killing ordered by Serbian warlord Arkan.

A documentary revealed the behind-the-scenes decision making of the investigation into Miss Dando’s murder.

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A particle of gunshot residue found in the pocket of a coat found at Barry George’s home became the key piece of forensic evidence against him.

At his retrial, the jury accepted that a particle of gunshot residue was not sufficient forensic evidence to place at the crime scene.

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Speaking to Der Spiegel in 2018, he opened up about the impact a wrongful conviction had on him, saying: “Ten years after my acquittal, I’m still trying to get away from it.

“Physically I’m exhausted. I’m always looking at every angle of the case and trying to find a conclusion.

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“But I just can’t understand it. I was acquitted but am serving a life sentence for a crime I did not commit.”

Mr George has learning disabilities as well as Asperger’s and other conditions, he also told the Mirror: “Police tailored the case to fit around my neck.

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“They thought it would just go away and solve the dando fiasco.”

What was said about the case?

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In a BBC documentary marking the 20th anniversary of the TV presenter’s shooting, the detective leading the inquiry said he didn’t think new suspects would ever be brought to justice.

Hamish Campbell’s team arrested Barry George on suspicion of murder in 2000, a year after Miss Dando was killed.

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Asked by the BBC if he thought Jill Dando’s murder would ever be solved, Mr Campbell said: “Do I think anyone will come back to justice? Probably not, no.”

He said: “Sometimes I’ve felt like we’re a day away from solving it, and sometimes I’ve been like, ‘No, we’re a long way from it.’

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“Senior officials asked, ‘What is the probability that this case will be solved?’

“We had over 2,000 people identified as potential suspects or those responsible. Some actions to track down and eliminate a person can take a day. An action can last two weeks.

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“But there are thousands of them, and that’s the problem with managing stranger homicides.”

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