News, Culture & Society

French court hears Russian hitman was dispatched to kill blonde reporter before Jill Dando was shot

Journalist and presenter Jill started her career working for the BBC in Devon.

She became a newsreader for BBC Radio Devon in 1985 and that year, she transferred to BBC South West, where she presented a regional news magazine programme, Spotlight South West.

In 1987, she worked for Television South West, then BBC Spotlight before being transferred to London the following year where she went on to achieve national fame.

The popular TV presenter was shot dead on Monday, April 26, 1999, outside her home in Fulham, West London.

The murder shocked the nation and has never been solved – making it one of the most infamous cases in Britain. 

A man named Barry George was charged and convicted of the murder in July 2001.

After an appeal, and a retrial at the end of 2008, he was found not guilty.

Despite several theories, the murder remains unsolved. 

The theories:  

IRA revenge killing

One theory is that the IRA targeted the BBC broadcaster because of her links to police through her work presenting Crimewatch

Wayne Aird was serving a life sentence in prison for killing a man two months after Jill Dando was shot

He claimed the IRA was responsible for her death but had not been brought to justice due to concerns it may jeopardise the Northern Ireland peace process

Paedophile ring

In 2014, an anonymous source who is believed to have worked with Jill Dando revealed she was trying to expose a VIP paedophile ring just months before her death

The friend reportedly told the Daily Express: ‘I don’t recall the names of all the stars now and don’t want to implicate anyone, but Jill said they were surprisingly big names.’


Dando had a large following due to her TV career, leading the police to believe an opportunistic individual may have been responsible 

The police identified 140 people who were ‘obsessed’ with the star. Adding to the theory, one of Jill’s neighbours revealed he had seen a sighting of the possible killer – a 6ft white man aged around 40. In the statement he said he heard a surprised cry from Jill ‘like someone greeting a friend’, suggesting she may have known her murderer

Joe the barman  

In 1996 Kenneth Noye was sentenced to life in prison for a road rage killing with the help of a Crimewatch TV appeal – could this have been an act of revenge? 

Serbian mafia  

15 days before Jill’s murder Serbian journalist Slavko Curuvija was shot dead outside his home in Belgrade

Detectives were informed Serbian mobsters who were residing in the UK plotted the assassination over drinks at a nightclub

A message sent to detectives claimed they carried out the hit in revenge for the Nato-led bombing of a Serbian TV station – but this theory has since been discredited by the Daily Mail 

A professional hit 

Barry George, 58, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001, but was acquitted seven years later after his conviction was quashed and a retrial ordered

After his release, a review suggested the killing had signs of a professional hit – particularly the ‘hard contact execution – which involves pressing the gun against the head to silence the shot and minimise the blood on the killer’s clothes

An intelligence report identified two suspects from a known London crime family, suggesting the murder could have been in retaliation for a Crimewatch investigation