Background: As baffling today as it was then
During some down-time this summer I revisited a topic that I have read about with great interest from time to time: the murder of Jill Dando. It is one of the enduring mysteries of modern times.
Whilst not quite in the JFK or 9/11 league for “Where were you when it happened?”, I do remember the day of her murder well. It was Monday 26th April 1999, and the news of what was initially thought to be a stabbing was raised as a particularly poor taste joke by a work colleague.
Upon checking online, or getting home to the news (I don’t remember which) the grim rumour was a reality; Jill Dando had been shot in the head on her doorstep.
I have been trying to think of an equivalent situation today, but it is a struggle. It is a bit like someone saying that Carol Kirkwood, the weather presenter, had been assasinated (God forbid).
In both cases, the people involved are famous female UK TV personalities, both with very cheerful styles and apparently sunny outlooks on life. They deliver harmless, feel-good TV and bring a lot of happiness to many. Why on earth would they suffer a very public, very violent death? What could possibly be the motive?
Even now, Jill Dando’s murder is as baffling as it is shocking, and a terrible example of just how awful violence against women by men is. Why should an unarmed, innocent lady be brutally attacked in a place where she should have felt very safe?
Now, the analogy above is somewhat imperfect. With the greatest of respect to Ms Kirkwood, Jill Dando had journalistic experience and had been a news presenter, delivering the serious issues of early nineties current affairs. More importantly, she co-presented Crimewatch, a proper ‘gritty’ TV show, with Nick Ross. So, although a very happy and cheery presenter, Jill Dando was not immune to more serious broadcasting and mild controversy in her public profile.
I will not attempt to go into all the details of what happened on that day, or the subsequent investigations. Although this murder happened near the beginning of the ‘web’ age, there is still a fair amount of good information out there online (although I would avoid paedophile conspiracy theory sites, of which there are many).
The case still makes headlines today and even a cursory Google will reveal articles in the national newspapers about the latest theories (which, ironically, tend to be very old ideas re-heated).
One ebook I found particularly useful was by Mike Bourke, Barry’s uncle, and it is available on Kindle.
‘The Battle to Clear Barry George of TV star Jill Dando’s Murder’
The link is below and you can read my review of the book there also.
Another item worth considering is the May 1999 episode of Crimewatch, which was the first broadcast following her murder. This is a helpful way of getting back to a lot of original witness material. There is no hindsight here, just raw uninterpreted facts, and it is a refreshing way to look at the case.
- The Serbs did it because NATO bombed the TV centre in Belgrade and Jill fronted an appeal for refugees in the Balkans, which many said was biased against the Serbs; Motive = revenge and warning to the West/NATO
- Career criminals did it because of Crimewatch; motive = don’t investigate organised crime
- Barry George did it; lone, obsessive nut theory; motive=jealousy, fame or unknown motive
- Someone like Barry George did it; lone, obsessive nut theory II (same motives)
- Someone very close to Jill did it, or gave orders for the murder; motive= her forthcoming marriage or a past greviance
- Another professional assasin did it; motive = unknown
Having given you something to think about, I will add another section to this article at a later date.