A new Netflix documentary focuses on the unsolved murder of TV presenter Jill Dando in 1999, and re-examines the witnesses who came forward after the shocking tragedy.
Twenty-four years on, Jill Dando’s killer is still out there, despite several eyewitnesses coming forward at the time with what could have been crucial evidence.
So who was seen at the scene of the crime on that fateful day in Fulham? And what role did the witnesses play in the police investigation into the death of BBC presenter Jill Dando?
Who Killed Jill Dando? on Netflix – all the witnesses
British broadcasting legend Jill Dando – nicknamed the Princess Diana of TV – was killed by a single bullet on her doorstep in 1999 in broad daylight. At 1.03pm, doctors declared Jill Dando dead at Charing Cross Hospital. She was just 37.
Despite one of the biggest homicide investigations in British history, the murder still remains unsolved. Although a jury found prime suspect Barry George guilty of the murder in 2001, his conviction was later quashed.
Netflix’s three-part series “takes viewers through the twists and the turns of a true crime mystery”. Her family, friends, journalists, investigators and lawyers consider the question: Who Killed Jill Dando?
The police launched a huge investigation, talking to eyewitnesses, those who knew her, and painstakingly looking through hundreds of hours of CCTV footage of Jill’s movements before her death.
Here’s a comprehensive rundown of all the witnesses in the baffling criminal investigation into the death of Jill Dando.
Two witnesses saw a man running away
Several key witnesses were interviewed within hours of Jill Dando’s death. Although no one actually saw what had happened to Jill, police identified two witnesses who had seen a man leaving the scene.
During police interviews, they described this man as white, with thick black hair. He was said to be thick set, and wearing a dark, waxed jacket. However, the man wasn’t masked, or wearing gloves.
But then why was he seen running away? Another witness claimed he saw a man running across the road who stopped at the bus stop and was sweating.
At 11.40am, a man was spotted crouching by the railings in a nearby park, talking on a mobile phone. Ten minutes later, a motorist was forced to brake hard when a man ran across the road away from the street where Jill lived.
Jill Dando witnesses: Traffic warden testimony
In the Netflix documentary, Who Killed Jill Dando?, the investigating officer at the time mentioned a traffic warden who became a key witness.
Senior Investigating Officer Hamish Campbell describes how a traffic warden spotted a suspicious looking car around the same time as Jill’s murder.
She was about to give a ticket to the driver of a blue Range Rover on Gowan Avenue, the road where Jill was found dead. The traffic warden started to write the ticket out, but the driver brushed her off and drove away.
Minutes later, CCTV images showed a blue Range Rover travelling at high speed down Fulham Palace Road away from the scene of the crime. The car passed through red lights to get away. Was it simply a case of trying to avoid a fine, despite the expensive car, or was there something more sinister about the motives?
The postman on the opposite side of the road
Due to the timing of the shooting – 11.30 in the morning – the local postman who covered the Gowan Avenue route was still on his rounds. He did not see Jill Dando or her murderer.
However, he was able to help the police with their enquiries. At around 10am, he was delivering mail to Dando’s house when he noticed he was being watched. He subsequently described the man as dark-haired and wearing a suit.
Gowan Avenue, in Fulham, London, is described as a “well-to-do, affluent area”.
Jill Dando witnesses: Neighbour Richard Hughes heard a chilling scream
Jill Dando’s next-door neighbour Richard Hughes described how he heard a chilling scream, but crucially no gunshot. He also described a 6ft white man, aged around 40, walking away from the scene. This could be the only confirmed sighting of the killer.
In archive footage shown on the Netflix documentary, a shocked Richard says: “[I didn’t hear] a man’s voice at all. There were no shots. I did hear a scream.”
Whether it was Jill screaming, or the woman who found her body isn’t clear.
A popular theory at the time of Jill Dando’s death was that her murder was committed by a professional hitman. This was mainly due to the nature of the murder. Jeff Edwards, the crime correspondent at the Daily Mirror at the time, explains that “no one heard gunshots” even though Jill was shot in the head. Her killer also took one precise single gun shot to the head, indicating a level of experience.
He also reveals that “silencers were very rare in those days”. Recent reports even suggest that Jill’s death might have been a case of mistaken identity.
Richard Hughes testified in court
Jill Dando’s next-door neighbour later told an Old Bailey jury how he saw her body minutes after she had been shot. Richard Hughes said he had heard a scream just after the TV presenter’s car had drawn up outside her home at 29 Gowan Avenue, Fulham, south-west London.
He said: “It was a female scream. I did not consider it to be significant at the time. I thought it was someone surprising somebody. The next thing I heard was the clicking of the gate.”
Shortly afterwards, he heard women talking outside and went out. He says: “I first saw her after three ladies asked me if it was Ms Dando. I looked over the wall and said yes,”
Mr Hughes was giving evidence during the trial of Barry George. He also revealed how he’d heard a car alarm, explaining: “It was similar to my wife’s car alarm. I heard footsteps walking towards the doorstep about five seconds after hearing the alarm.
“The next thing I heard was a scream. It was about 30 seconds after the alarm. I did not form any impression of where it was coming from.”
Mr Hughes looked through the shutters of the bedroom window and had a clear view of a male figure walking left towards Fulham Palace Road. At the time, he said: “He was moving briskly. I could see half his face.”
Mr Hughes described the man as aged between 30 and 40 and of average height. He was thick set with a dark, thick mop of hair that reached to his collar. He was clean shaven, and wearing a dark waxed coat.”
Who saw Barry George at the scene?
During the trial of key suspect Barry George, the jury was told that six witnesses had made positive or partial identifications of George as being in Gowan Avenue, where Dando lived, on the morning she was shot.
Described as an “isolated loner”, George lived half a mile from the home of the 37-year-old Holiday presenter. He was said to have had an obsession with female presenters, including Jill.
When a single particle of firearm discharge residue – a speck that matched the ammunition used in the killing – was found on his jacket, he was subsequently arrested. He was convicted in 2001 and sentenced to life in prison but was granted a retrial which heard the “neutral” particle was deemed so inconsequential that it was inadmissible as evidence.
After spending eight years in jail, he was eventually acquitted and released. George walked free from court in 2009 and moved to Ireland over fears for his life.
Who Killed Jill Dando streams on Netflix from Tuesday, September 26, 2023.
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