Almost 25 years after she was gunned down on her doorstep, Jill Dando’s murder is the subject of a Netflix documentary. Now, in a rare interview, her brother relives her final days

Almost 25 years after she was gunned down on her doorstep, Jill Dando’s murder is the subject of a Netflix documentary. Now, in a rare interview, her brother relives her final days

The final time Nigel Dando noticed his little sister, Jill, it was a blustery Easter weekend. After a giant lunch – roast beef, Nigel recollects – he, Jill, their father Jack and Jill’s fiancé Alan Farthing went for a stroll.

Jill, arm-in-arm with Alan, led the best way, tramping by way of countryside close to the household residence in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

‘You could not wipe the smile off her face,’ says Nigel. ‘She was getting married in 5 months and the speak was all about that. Her plans, how excited she was: she was stuffed with it.’

There was to be a giant, white wedding ceremony: a church in Putney, South-West London, adopted by a reception at Claridge’s Resort, attended by lots of Jill’s well-known colleagues on the BBC.

Jill had written the visitor record in her Filofax, the place she additionally famous dates of costume fittings and an appointment with a stationer to debate invites. She had even began jotting down concepts for her speech.

Subsequent on her to-do record was the honeymoon, for which Jill had loads of concepts from her time presenting the journey programme Vacation.

On April 26, 1999, Jill was useless, shot in broad daylight exterior her entrance door in a brutal assault by an unknown gunman who – practically 25 years later – has by no means been caught

‘She was so happy and delighted to be getting married,’ says Nigel. ‘She and Alan had been so good collectively. That they had an instantaneous attraction, they usually shared the identical sense of humour. It simply labored.

‘It was beautiful for Dad, and for me, to know that she was glad. A variety of her buddies had settled down and had households and, at 37, I suppose she was trying ahead to happening the identical route.’

For Britain’s golden woman, happiness was really on the horizon. Nevertheless it wasn’t to be.

Simply three weeks later, on April 26, 1999, Jill was useless, shot in broad daylight exterior her entrance door in a brutal assault by an unknown gunman who – practically 25 years later – has by no means been caught.

As a substitute of a marriage, 100 shut family and friends – the exact same names in Jill’s Filofax – joined 2,000 mourners gathered on the household church to say goodbye.

Jill was laid to relaxation subsequent to her mom, Jean, who had died in 1986 from leukaemia. She, not less than, was at peace. However the identical can’t be stated of her household.

For what adopted Jill’s dying was one of many largest British police investigations of all time: 1,393 potential suspects, 500 hours of CCTV footage, leads chased across the globe, a £250,000 reward for info (part-funded by this newspaper), and – in fact – the quashed conviction of Barry George, who spent seven years in jail for the homicide however was launched after a second trial in 2008. At first, Nigel, now 71, a retired journalist, assumed his sister’s killer would shortly be discovered.

Nigel, now 71, pictured with his little sister Jill during their childhood

Nigel, now 71, pictured together with his little sister Jill throughout their childhood 

‘It was a busy London road, and whoever did it might have escaped in a automotive, on a motorcycle or on foot – so any person would have seen them,’ he says.

‘There have been, I believed, little question plenty of clues exterior Jill’s home, or maybe any person had seen somebody following her.

‘Nevertheless it turned clear fairly shortly that none of these issues was true. Whoever did it appeared to have vanished into skinny air, which was outstanding.’

And noteworthy it stays. Twenty-four years and 5 months after his sister was killed, Nigel and his household are nonetheless no nearer to the reality – making Jill’s homicide one of many best unsolved crimes of the final century. This month, her case will get the Netflix remedy in a three-part documentary which matches deep behind-the-scenes of the police investigation.

Nigel, a soft-spoken man who lives close to Bristol, isn’t given to overblown exhibits of emotion. He does not typically do interviews, both, preferring to guard his privateness and that of his spouse, Vanessa.

However this time is totally different. As a result of even in spite of everything these years, Nigel nonetheless has religion that his sister’s killer shall be dropped at justice. Netflix, he hopes, will imprint Jill’s story – that of her life, not simply her dying – on the hearts of a brand new technology.

‘I needed to offer a extra rounded image of Jill, and to point out why she was so fashionable with hundreds of thousands of individuals,’ he says of his resolution to take part within the sequence.

‘I additionally hope it’d encourage somebody to come back ahead with a snippet of data that did not appear essential earlier than.

‘There’s even the chance that whoever killed Jill would possibly watch it, and it could prick their conscience.’

Viewers will relive, in minute element, Jill’s final actions on that fateful morning.

It was a Monday, cloudy, and she or he had spent the earlier night time with Alan, a advisor gynaecologist who would go on to ship the Princess of Wales’ three youngsters, whom she’d been courting for 18 months.

Alan lived in Chiswick, 20 minutes from Jill’s home in Gowan Avenue, Fulham. Although she nonetheless owned the property, she not often stayed there now, solely visiting to gather submit and faxes. On April 26, Jill woke early, made her fiancé breakfast and, earlier than he left at 7.25am, informed him she deliberate to attend a charity lunch on the Lanesborough resort.

CCTV data present that she departed, in her blue BMW convertible, simply after 10am, operating errands and making a number of cellphone calls on her solution to Gowan Avenue, the place she deliberate to vary an ink cartridge in her fax machine.

Twenty-four years and five months after his sister was killed, Nigel and his family are still no closer to the truth (Pictured - Jill with Nigel and their father Jack)

Twenty-four years and 5 months after his sister was killed, Nigel and his household are nonetheless no nearer to the reality (Pictured – Jill with Nigel and their father Jack) 

What occurred within the minutes round 11.30am, after Jill parked yards from her entrance door, are recognized solely to her killer. A neighbour reported listening to footsteps, then ‘a startled scream’; one other heard ‘a weird high-pitched noise’.

At 11.50am, a girl strolling residence from the retailers made the horrifying discovery: Jill was slumped within the doorway, mendacity in a pool of blood. She was clutching her keys, her £20,000 diamond engagement ring – which Alan had given her lower than three months beforehand – nonetheless on her finger.

At first, there was a lot blood, it was thought she’d been stabbed. In actual fact, she was shot within the head, killed by a single bullet from a 9mm semi-automatic pistol.

Nigel was at work, within the newsroom of the Bristol Night Put up, when he received the decision.

‘It was a colleague on the Day by day Mail,’ he recollects. ‘They’d heard that Jill had been in an accident. I believed I would higher simply ring Jill. I could not get by way of, so I carried on with my work. Half an hour later, the reporter referred to as once more to say it was extra critical, that she’d been stabbed — and that is when alarm bells began ringing.’

What occurred subsequent is blurry, however he managed to pay money for Alan who, from the again of a police automotive en path to the hospital, confirmed his worst fears: Jill was useless.

Nigel’s intuition was to guard his father. ‘One half of my mind was pondering, ‘How can we address this as a household?’ and the opposite knew that this wasn’t simply my sister, she was a family identify, and we had been going to be besieged by the Press.’ A colleague drove him to Weston to be with Jack, the place he gave a short remark to reporters — and the pair sat it out, ready for information. However none got here.

Theories swirled – revenge by a paedophile ring she was about to show, a Serbian warlord in retaliation for Jill’s help of Kosovan refugees, connections with numerous instances on BBC1’s Crimewatch sequence which Jill introduced.

Detectives saved the household abreast of developments, and Nigel says he has no criticism of their investigation – dubbed Operation Oxborough.

‘When my dad was alive [Jack died, on his 91st birthday, in 2009], Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell used to drive from London to the West Nation, a round-trip of greater than 200 miles, to have a cup of tea and inform us what they had been doing.

‘Other than a spent bullet casing discovered on Jill’s doorstep, the police had nothing to go on. They had been swamped with info, however no person noticed who pulled the set off.’

In Might 2000, police lastly thought they’d their man: Barry George, a recluse with a character dysfunction and several other earlier convictions – together with indecent assault and tried rape – lived simply quarter-hour from Gowan Avenue. When police raided his residence, they discovered 2,248 pictures of girls, taken with out their data, on undeveloped rolls of digital camera, in addition to {a photograph} of a gas-masked man – which George denied was him – holding a pistol. An alleged particle of firearm residue, suggesting a fired gun, was discovered within the pocket of considered one of his coats.

..Police search Gowan Avenue, Fulham, south west London Monday April 26, 1999

..Police search Gowan Avenue, Fulham, south west London Monday April 26, 1999

George, then 40, was stated to be obsessive about Princess Diana, to whom glamorous Jill bore a hanging resemblance, and he as soon as tried to interrupt into Kensington Palace. Crucially, he additionally lacked an alibi for the precise time of her homicide.

However after being convicted by a majority verdict and sentenced to life in jail, George appealed – and, in November 2007, had his conviction quashed on the idea of inadequate proof.

Particularly, forensic specialists testified that the gunshot residue was simply as prone to have come from one other supply as from a gun fired by George.

A retrial the next 12 months discovered him not responsible.

Of George, who at all times denied the crime, Nigel says little: ‘One court docket discovered him responsible and one other discovered him not responsible. I used to be at all times disillusioned, although it was his proper, that he did not rise up in court docket and provides proof.’

For a protecting older brother, not understanding the reality about his sister’s dying is deeply irritating. Regardless of the 9 years and 9 months age-gap between them, household portraits dotted on windowsills round his residence present a young bond.

There is a black-and-white image of Nigel in a deckchair within the backyard, holding his little blonde sister lovingly in his arms.

And from a younger age, he had purpose to be protecting. Jill was born with a gap in her coronary heart and, aged three, needed to endure life-saving surgical procedure.

‘We weren’t certain whether or not or not she would pull by way of,’ he recollects. ‘It was a really, very tough time.’

As a younger youngster, he says, she was fairly quiet, however she began to blossom in her mid-teens.

She was a member of the Baptist church and the dramatics society, and she or he had a large circle of buddies by way of that.

‘As she received older she was brilliant and bubbly, at all times keen on different individuals’s conditions and sharing others’ pleasure of their successes.

‘I bear in mind she was captivated by TV and she or he at all times had this want to work – not on it however behind the scenes.’

Jill was laid to rest next to her mother, Jean, who had died in 1986 from leukaemia

Jill was laid to relaxation subsequent to her mom, Jean, who had died in 1986 from leukaemia

Jill adopted in Nigel’s footsteps by becoming a member of the Weston Mercury as a trainee reporter and shortly discovered her area of interest, preferring happier tales to extra critical information protection.

‘She hated to upset or disappoint anybody,’ Nigel remembers. ‘Dad informed me that she as soon as went for a job in TV and received knocked again as a result of they thought she was too

very similar to Mary Poppins. It was that high quality which drew individuals to her — she had this means to point out heat and empathy to anybody.

‘With Jill, what you noticed on display was what you bought off it.’

Subsequent, Jill went to work as a station assistant at Radio Devon, finally turning into a newsreader. Then she moved to the BBC’s regional present Highlight, and, in 1988, made the leap to nationwide TV.

‘Whereas I used to be happy for her, I used to be additionally involved because it was a giant transfer, and she or he’d led fairly a sheltered life,’ remembers Nigel.

However Jill stunned all of them together with her professionalism and girl-next-door attraction, which took her from breakfast tv to presenting the BBC Information.

Vacation, Songs Of Reward and Crimewatch, which she co-presented from 1995 till her dying, adopted. In 1997, she was named BBC Persona of the Yr. ‘She was, no doubt, one of many highest-profile presenters round,’ says Nigel, shaking his head with satisfaction. ‘That was my sister.’ Together with her killer nonetheless at giant, the investigation into Jill’s dying stays open – and Nigel says he’s at all times open to listening to new theories.

‘A few of them are fanciful,’ he provides. ‘However the truth that persons are nonetheless is nice. Possibly at some point one will maintain water.’

He does not go in for hypothesis {that a} hitman was concerned, at all times believing that Jill’s homicide was a random assault by ‘somebody on the road on the time who needed a second of notoriety’.

Nigel provides: ‘All I wish to know is why? Why did they do it? That is what I battle with, even now: there was no motive.’

He now not speaks recurrently to the police, however continues to be in touch with Alan Farthing, who’s now married with a son, and earlier this 12 months was made a commander of the Royal Victorian Order by King Charles. ‘I final noticed him 4 years in the past, however Christmas playing cards wing yearly between right here and London,’ says Nigel. ‘He has his family now. Nevertheless it’s good to listen to from him.’

Most of his recollections of Jill are in Weston: the place native faculties run journalism courses in her identify, and the place ‘Jill’s Backyard’, constructed by the BBC Floor Drive workforce in 2001, provides a quiet place of remembrance.

Nigel visits his sister’s grave, too. A easy granite stone bears the phrases: ‘Your stunning smile, that unaffected magnificence, a real star – we love you.’

For probably the most half, nevertheless, Nigel tries to look ahead – not again. ‘I do not dwell on what occurred. I made a vow to myself that I would not let it drag me down, and that at some point there can be justice for Jill.’

And now, in spite of everything this time, does that vow nonetheless stand? ‘Because the years go by, my hope recedes,’ Nigel admits. ‘You need to be reasonable about these items. It’s extremely unlikely, however that does not imply it will not occur. I’ve to consider that my sister’s killer might nonetheless be discovered.’

Who Killed Jill Dando?, a three-part documentary sequence, shall be launched on Netflix on September 26

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