Mystery still surrounds the killing of Jill Dando, as new book details
PUBLISHED: 08:00 21 July 2012 | UPDATED: 13:10 23 July 2012
A NEW book, probing some of Britain’s most notorious unsolved crimes, is hoping to shed new light on the tragic death of Weston-born TV star Jill Dando.
Unsolved Crimes, written by Ian and Claire Welch, explores the possible motives behind the 37-year-old’s murder, and outlines several new theories.
The Crimewatch presenter and former Mercury reporter was killed on the doorstep of her London home on April 26, 1999 by a single gunshot to the head.
Ever since, police and public have tried to piece together what happened to Jill on that fateful day.
Suspect Barry George was convicted of killing her in 2001, but that conviction was quashed six years later, and he was ultimately cleared during a retrial in 2008.
Since then, the mystery of who killed Jill has remained unsolved.
The new book begins by recounting Jill’s early life, which saw her study briefly at Worle Community School before heading on to Broadoak School where she became head girl.
After her A-levels, she cut her teeth in journalism as a junior reporter on the Mercury.
Nearly 10 years after her journalism career began, Jill got her big break and moved to London to present BBC’s Breakfast Time.
Throughout the early 1990s, Jill became a household name across the country, presenting programmes including Holiday and Crimewatch. She had just begun a new series entitled Antiques Inspectors before her life was cruelly cut short.
Unsolved Crimes tells the story of her death, the subsequent police investigation, an eventual criminal trial and the legal wrangles which led to the re-trial.
It also reveals how her fiancé Alan Farthing had been off work the week Jill died - making the final preparations for their wedding.
As the book reports: “Instead of organising place settings, Farthing had the unenviable task of identifying Jill’s body in the mortuary.”
Unsolved Crimes outlines several theories as to who had killed Jill, all considered by police at the time – including a revenge killing, a hired hitman or an obsessive fan.
As the book states: “The method of killing seemed to point to a man who had killed before, possibly several times.”
The book describes how police struggled to cross-reference witness statements, with several who described seeing a man running near the scene and another said they saw a man sweating at a bus stop near the scene.
Other theories investigated included questioning Jill’s former lovers as well as the possibility that it was a random attack or even a political killing.
As the book reports: “The victim had also presented the BBC appeal for Kosovo refugees earlier in April 1999, and police pursued the possibility her killing was a political assassination.”
The book also goes into detail about the eventual trial of Barry George, who lived close to Jill’s home, with a key piece of evidence relating to a firearm used to convict him.
But doubts against the evidence later arose, and the book then details the chain of events which saw him cleared.
Elizabeth Johnston-Keay, an old family friend, said in the Mercury in 1999: “I still miss Jill very much.
“But whatever the outcome it would not have brought her back.”
Unsolved Crimes also examines cases such as the Black Dahlia, Gennette Tate, Peter Falconio and Suzy Lamplugh.
The book, published by Haynes, is out now priced £7.99 from www.haynes.co.uk