Back in 1999, journalist and presenter Jill Dando was shot outside of her home in Fulham, London. At the time, a local resident named Barry George was charged with the crime, but was later released from jail due to a retrial and an appeal in which he was declared innocent. The case has remained open for some years, but an ex-policeman has now come forward, declaring that the individual responsible for the shooting has been found.
Who was Jill Dando?
Dando worked as a print journalist for five years before making a break in the media. She landed a job at BBC Radio Devon as a newsreader in 1985, before moving on to the South West of the country, where she became a regional news reporter for Spotlight South West.
From there, she gained nationwide attention after making her name on prime-time news programmes such as Breakfast Time, Breakfast News and BBC News. She also hosted the travel show – Holiday, aswell as The Antiques Inspectors but she is perhaps mainly remembered for presenting Crimewatch along with Nick Ross.
On 26th April 1999, Dando returned from her fiance, Alan Farthing’s home to her own property in the late morning. It was noted at the time that Dando was in the middle of selling this home, so wasn’t living there on a regular basis. Upon stepping to her front door, she was shot in the back of the head.
She was found approximately 14 minutes later by her friend, Helen Doble, before being rushed to hospital. She was pronounced dead upon arriving.
According to writer for The Guardian, Bob Woffindon in July 2002: “As Dando was about to put her keys in the lock to open the front door of her home in Fulham, she was grabbed from behind. With his right arm, the assailant held her and forced her to the ground, so that her face was almost touching the tiled step of the porch. Then, with his left hand, he fired a single shot at her left temple, killing her instantly. The bullet entered her head just above her ear, parallel to the ground, and came out the right side of her head.”
The man who was wrongly blamed
Barry George was the man held responsible for the incident and now lives his life in fear as a result of the accusation. He feels as though he has to ‘look over his shoulder’ and is unable to live the life of a free man, despite being found innocent.
He claimed that on one particular occasion, he was threatened by an individual who held a gun to his head and told him to ‘watch his back’.
According to The Mirror, George said: “When I was in emergency accommodation in Hackney, I was stood in a long hallway and I had a gun put to my head.
“I went to the police station and told them and they gave me lip service. I was living in fear. There were two things in my mind: I’ve been acquitted of this crime and then I get a gun to my head. There was talk of a Serbian hit team involved in Jill’s killing.
“We think it must have been someone who had a link. It’s too much of a coincidence.”
The Met Office police confirmed that George had informed them of the incident at the time it happened, but appeared in a state of shock upon arrival and couldn’t give concrete details about what he had witnessed.
Criminal report specialist David Wells had joined George to report the crime and told The Mirror: “He was incredibly distressed… sweating, out of breath and in quite a state. I’d seen Barry on many occasions and I had never seen him this distressed. Barry repeated that someone pointed a gun at him and made a threat – he appeared highly credible. He was very afraid. It could well have been someone linked to the murder of Jill Dando.
“It does seem unlikely someone would randomly select Barry out of millions in London and threaten him and put a gun to his head after his acquittal. If indeed it was rated as a serious complaint and investigated by police, nothing came of it.”
After being freed from prison, George made a run to Ireland in 2009, after stating that he had suffered harassment from locals and police.
He went on to tell The Mirror: “I do not feel free. I think about this case every single day. Every time I come to England, the officers are polite but they’ll be noting down my presence, every time I go back, and monitoring what I’m doing. I live looking over my shoulder. Nobody should have to live like that.”
“Ten years after being acquitted and I’m still trying to get away from it. Me and my family have not been exonerated for this crime and we have not got closure.
Dando’s real killer
It seems that an ex-policeman has come forward to reveal the answers to the questions we have been asking ourselves for 10 years. In an exclusive interview on This Morning, Mark Williams-Thomas gives an interesting insight into some forward movement on the case.
Williams-Thomas declared that a professional hitman had shot Dando and even has the name of the individual who committed the crime.
Talking to Eammon and Ruth on the sofa, he said: “I have now been given the name of the killer and that is my focus – on that individual.”
In a state of shock, Ruth responded: “You have a name?” before he answered: “I do…and that is my focus now – to try and finally solve this investigation because there is no doubt that Jill was murdered, assassinated, by a professional hitman.
“For an individual to get away with [it] for nearly 20 years… for an individual to have remained completely under the radar. The gun has never been recovered, nothing else has come into circulation. That shows you the quality of this person.”
“It is time for the police to drop their pride… he served eight years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit.” he said; referring to George.