Was Jill Dando a victim of 'mistaken identity' and blonde model the real target?

26 September 2023, 10:22

Jill Dando (l)
Jill Dando (l) and Lisa Brinkworth (r). Picture: Alamy/supplied

By StephenRigley

An undercover reporter may have been the “real target” for Jill Dando’s hitman - with legal documents suggesting her murder was a case of “mistaken identity”.

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Presenter Jill, 37, was killed by a single gunshot wound to the head outside her home in Fulham, South West London, in 1999.

Jill Dando was killed on her doorstep in 1999
Jill Dando was killed on her doorstep in 1999. Picture: Alamy

Read More: Who killed Jill Dando? The main theories behind Britain's biggest unsolved murder

Read More: Jill Dando killer 'wanted five minutes of notoriety' says brother, as he dismisses 'professional hit' speculation

Her murderer has yet to be found and a string of theories have emerged including she was killed by a Serbian hitman. Loner Barry George was convicted of her murder but his conviction was later quashed before he was acquitted at a second trial in 2008.

It has recently emerged through French court documents that Jill could have been murdered by a Russian hitman in a case of mistaken identity.

Papers submitted to a Paris court allege Elite model agency boss Gerald Marie - who was accused of raping several women - wanted undercover journalist Lisa Brinkworth "dealt with" in revenge for her exposing his firm.

The documents claimed the French fashion boss hired an assassin who went on to kill the wrong target.

Legal documents seen by MailOnline say Marie ordered a member of the Russian mafia to “deal with a problem”.

The documents continue: “Shortly thereafter… a BBC journalist, Jill Dando, was shot dead in April 1999.

“Indeed, these two journalists were in their 30s, were blonde with similar facial features and of the same height and stature.

“They lived close to each other and had people in common, including the husband of Jill Dando.”

Dando was one of the country’s most recognisable faces when her murder sent shockwaves across the nation.

She had become engaged to high-profile doctor Alan Farthing just three months before her death. Brinkworth was one of her patients.

She spent most of her time at his home in Chiswick, and was selling her own house in Fulham.

On the morning of April 26, 1999, she made the 15-minute drive home in her BMW convertible, arriving at around 11.30am. Just outside her front door her murderer pounced on her from behind and forced her to the ground.

He held a gun to her left temple, and fired a single bullet.Her body was discovered around a quarter-of-an-hour later by a neighbour, who called the police.

Dando was taken to hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Dando’s murder became the biggest criminal investigation of the decade.London’s homicide squad reportedly interviewed more than 2,500 people, took more than 1,000 statements and traced more than 1,200 cars.

Detectives turned their attention to George who lived about half a mile from Dando's house, shortly after her murder.

George was put under surveillance, arrested and charged with her murder on May 28, 1999.

He was tried at the Old Bailey, convicted, and on July 2, 2001, was sentenced to life imprisonment. Two appeals were unsuccessful, but after discredited forensics evidence was excluded from the prosecution's case, George's third appeal succeeded in November 2007.

The original conviction was quashed and a second trial lasting eight weeks ended in George's acquittal on August 1, 2008.

No one else has been charged with Jill's murder.

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