‘When I heard my sister Jill Dando had died, I knew I needed to protect dad’: Brother of TV presenter shot dead on her doorstep in 1999 recalls his reaction as reports of her murder came out in new Netflix series

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When Nigel Dando went into work at his local newspaper on April 26 1999 he had no idea his peers would later be reporting on the murder of his beloved sister.

TV presenter Jill Dando was shot dead on her doorstep in Fulham, west London, in a crime that sent shockwaves through the nation, prompting a huge investigation led by the Metropolitan Police.

To this day, it remains one of the most high profile and complex police investigations in history, with the rising BBC star’s shooter remaining unknown.

Now more than 24 years later a new Netflix series Who Killed Jill Dando is set to explore the cold case.

Throughout the documentary, Dando’s older brother Nigel describes the painstaking moment he discovered his sister had died and the immediate instinct to protect his father from the onslaught of news coverage.

Jill Dando pictured with her brother Nigel and her father Jack

Jill Dando pictured with her brother Nigel and her father Jack

TV presenter Jill Dando was shot dead on her doorstep in Fulham, west London in April 1999

TV presenter Jill Dando was shot dead on her doorstep in Fulham, west London in April 1999

Netflix has produced a three-part series on the killing which is due to air on 26 September

Netflix has produced a three-part series on the killing which is due to air on 26 September

He wanted warn his family would quickly ‘be in the eye of the storm’ with reporters turning up on their doorstep within a matter of hours.

Nigel, who was nine years older than Dando, had been working at the Bristol Evening Post where the news had flashed up upon a bank of TV screens.

He said: ‘Reports were coming out that she had died. I clicked into sort of automatic mode. I thought I need to protect my dad from this. I rushed down to Weston Supermare. He was obviously devastated. I was wondering how we were going to cope with all this. 

‘But half an hour after I got down to Weston the TV reporter from BBC Points West knocked on the door. I knew him. I slipped back into journalistic mode. I gave him an interview.’

He added: ‘It was a sense of emptiness and a sense of despair. And I had to explain to my dad what had happened, what was going to happen. That we were kind of going to be in the eye of a storm.’

Dando’s death had sparked an outpouring of grief from tens of thousands of people across the country. 

Nigel described his sister’s funeral, explaining how on that day life in Weston Super Mare, where they had been raised, was brought to a halt.

Nigel, who was nine years older than Dando, had been working at the Bristol Evening Post where the news had flashed up upon a bank of TV screens

Nigel, who was nine years older than Dando, had been working at the Bristol Evening Post where the news had flashed up upon a bank of TV screens

Nigel described his sister's funeral, explaining how on that day life in Weston Super Mare, where they had been raised, was brought to a halt

Nigel described his sister’s funeral, explaining how on that day life in Weston Super Mare, where they had been raised, was brought to a halt

The Crimewatch interview was conducted by a rising star at the BBC, Jill Dando, who at one time admitted that her role on the show left her in fear of retribution from the criminals she sought to expose

The Crimewatch interview was conducted by a rising star at the BBC, Jill Dando, who at one time admitted that her role on the show left her in fear of retribution from the criminals she sought to expose

‘I’ll always remember it,’ he said. ‘We were in the back of a limousine following Jill’s coffin. There were just thousands of people who’d come out. Weston just stopped.’ 

At the time of her death, she was best known for co-presenting the BBC One programme Crimewatch with Nick Ross.

It has long been suspected that Ms Dando was shot by a professional assassin. A blue Range Rover that was parked illegally on the street where she lived, Gowan Avenue, was caught on CCTV driving away at speed from the area.

In 1999, Detective Chief Inspector Hamish Campbell — who is featured in the series — was a senior investigating officer in the Met’s murder squad, based in Kensington, West London. He had never met Dando though she had made an appeal on Crimewatch for one of his old murder inquiries and they had attended the same lunch at Scotland Yard, where she had spoken of her fears of a ‘hit’ being carried out on a Crimewatch presenter.

When told by a colleague that reports were coming through that a woman had been ‘stabbed’ in Fulham, Campbell decided to take a sergeant and go see for himself as it it was a ‘very unusual’ crime for that area of London.

As he drove down, he received a call from his chief superintendent who said to him bluntly, ‘that case, that’s going to be Jill Dando’. 

Theories sparked that a hitman closer to home was responsible for her death, and suggested Dando was murdered by London Underworld Mr Big

Theories sparked that a hitman closer to home was responsible for her death, and suggested Dando was murdered by London Underworld Mr Big

After years of investigating, police made Barry George their prime suspect. After his house was raided a photo of him holding a gun (pictured) raised suspicions of police officers

After years of investigating, police made Barry George their prime suspect. After his house was raided a photo of him holding a gun (pictured) raised suspicions of police officers

Speaking in the documentary, he described the scene of horror he walked into. He was briefed by officers who said no one had seen ‘what had actually happened to Jill’ but two witnesses had seen a man fleeing the scene.

‘They described this white man, dark hair, thick set, wearing a coat, a dark coat, wasn’t masked, wasn’t wearing gloves,’ he said. ‘So the real focus right there, was how the person who had been seen running away, was to be caught.

‘Uniformed officers were told to spread out and search the area. We were waiting for information from the hospital, because there was no confirmation that Jill had died.’

Despite her grave injuries and the fact she appeared to be dead, extensive efforts were made to resuscitate her both at the scene and at Charing Cross Hospital, where she was declared dead.

After being told of Dando’s death, more details about the shooting began to emerge, Mr Campbell said.

‘When I was still on the pavement, and just looked from the gate up to the front door of Jill’s house, and I could see the bullet encasing on the doorstep. Jill Dando had been shot in the head.

‘It was immediately sort of unfathomable. The concept of any woman being shot in the head in London, let alone a celebrity, was rare in the extreme.’

In 1999, Detective Chief Inspector Hamish Campbell — who is featured in the series — was a senior investigating officer in the Met's murder squad, based in Kensington, West London

In 1999, Detective Chief Inspector Hamish Campbell — who is featured in the series — was a senior investigating officer in the Met’s murder squad, based in Kensington, West London

Dando had a number of public relationships and lived with television producer Bob Wheaton, but their relationship ended due to workloads

Dando had a number of public relationships and lived with television producer Bob Wheaton, but their relationship ended due to workloads

The Crimewatch interview was conducted by a rising star at the BBC, Jill Dando, who at one time admitted that her role on the show left her in fear of retribution from the criminals she sought to expose

The Crimewatch interview was conducted by a rising star at the BBC, Jill Dando, who at one time admitted that her role on the show left her in fear of retribution from the criminals she sought to expose

This are the haunting last images of Jill Dando-pictured just 40 minutes before she was assassinated outside her home in Fulham

This are the haunting last images of Jill Dando-pictured just 40 minutes before she was assassinated outside her home in Fulham

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, officers began to trawl through the scene which the former Detective Chief Inspector said ‘had been heavily contaminated’ resulting in everything being picked up – ‘relevant or not’.

‘Scrapings, gravel, finger print marks from the gate, fibres. We had a bullet and a cartridge casing on the doorstep,’ Mr Campbell recalled. 

‘The ballistics expert told me it was a single shot to the left side of her head, some thought like a professional execution.

‘And that bullet and casing on the doorstep were from a 9mm caliber weapon.’

In July 2001, Barry George – a local loner and fantasist who had already served a prison sentence for attempted rape – was convicted of her murder.

However, he was granted a retrial on appeal and was unanimously acquitted by a jury in August 2008 after spending eight years in prison. 

Ever since George was acquitted a string of theories have emerged over what truly happened to Dando. 

One theory at the time was that Dando may have been killed by a jealous ex-boyfriend or an unknown lover.

Jill Dando and Nick Ross in 1995

Jill Dando and Nick Ross in 1995

In June last year, it emerged that Ms Dando's killer may have mistaken her for another BBC journalist who was the real target of an assassination plot

In June last year, it emerged that Ms Dando’s killer may have mistaken her for another BBC journalist who was the real target of an assassination plot

Earlier in April 1999, Ms Dando fronted a BBC1 broadcast appealing for funds to help refugees fleeing the ethnic cleansing of Albanians by Serbian forces in the province of Kosovo

Earlier in April 1999, Ms Dando fronted a BBC1 broadcast appealing for funds to help refugees fleeing the ethnic cleansing of Albanians by Serbian forces in the province of Kosovo

Another line of inquiry looked into by police was that Ms Dando had been murdered on the orders of the Serbian warlord and underworld boss Željko Ražnatović, aka Arkan.

Earlier in April 1999, Ms Dando fronted a BBC1 broadcast appealing for funds to help refugees fleeing the ethnic cleansing of Albanians by Serbian forces in the province of Kosovo.

British warplanes were taking part in the Nato bombing of Yugoslavia to try to halt the massacre when Ms Dando was killed.

The Mail revealed that an official police report blamed resuscitation efforts for potentially destroying vital evidence that could have led officers to her killer.

Her clothes were ripped off to perform cardiac massage and the ground was ‘trampled’ by those who tried to save her.

In June last year, it emerged that Ms Dando’s killer may have mistaken her for another BBC journalist who was the real target of an assassination plot.

Prosecutors in a French court accused fashion boss Gérald Marie, 73, of using the Russian Mafia to try and kill Lisa Brinkworth after she exposed him as a sex abuser.

But their gunman may have assassinated Ms Dando by mistake.

Ms Brinkworth claimed Marie, former boss of the Elite agency, wanted her dead because she claimed he sexually assaulted her in 1998 while she was working undercover to expose crimes in the fashion industry.

She told the Mirror: ‘Even if there was a tiny possibility, I don’t know if I could live with that, so I’m hoping there’s nothing in that. I try not to think about it. I really, really don’t want it to be true.’

Post source: The List

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