After 24 years the shocking murder of British television presenter and journalist Jill Dando is brought back into the spotlight in a three part Netflix documentary. On April 26, 1999, she was shot at point blank range in the head, on her own doorstep in broad daylight in West London.
Jill Dando was only 37 at the time, she was a beloved presenter and considered by many to be the ‘Diana’ of TV. The news sent shockwaves through Britain, not only due to her national treasure status, but the nature of the crime. Gun crime is extremely rare in the UK and even more so outside of organised criminal or gang activity and for this to happen, apparently unprovoked and in an affluent area of London, it’s unprecedented.
The documentary was made with the permission of her brother Nigel Dando, in the hope it can reignite the case and that someone will come forward. The documentary covers her rise in the news media industry, it shines a light on her previous partners, the various theories that surrounded the case and even features an interview from Barry George, who was wrongly convicted of her murder and spent 8 years in jail.
George was a loner and an oddball fantasist with a history of violence against women, he was observed following numerous women whilst under surveillance, he was obsessed with guns and upon search of his home multiple rolls of film were found. Upon development, hundreds of photographs of women were found, with one solitary photograph of him posing with a handgun.
George is featured heavily in the documentary where he declares his innocence, but in an extremely bizarre moment he re-enacts how he ‘didn’t’ commit the murder, asking a crew member to be a “guinea pig“. With her back to him he says “If I’d have pushed you down and it was alleged I pushed you down with the left hand , there’d be masses of blood or gunshot residue over the perpetrator. They found one particle , I rest my case.”
It features the many lines of enquiry the police followed including one lead from an informant known as “Mr James” he led police on a wild goose chase for two months. A bungled E-Fit again wasted months of police time.
The many theories ranged from, it being a professional hit, as retaliation for her appeal on behalf of Kosovan refugees or that drug gangs wanted to make a statement after her many appearances on the TV show Crimewatch, which had helped to bring down criminal gangs in the past.
It’s fast-paced, but also balanced, sensitive and compassionate, it’s not afraid to ask the hard questions after there were numerous mistakes, one of which includes one of the first witness statements, it explains seeing a man running from the scene, who boarded a bus. Cameras from the bus were checked so late, they had been wiped.
Who Killed Jill Dando? Is an extremely well made true crime documentary it covers the many enquiries the police had to deal with, in detail. It has an extremely thorough look at the forensic evidence and how that was used by both the prosecution and its part in George’s acquittal 8 years later.
It can cause frustration with its lack of answers and lack of new evidence but that is not detriment to the quality of the program. With a new light shining on the case once more, let’s hope Jill Dando and her family finally receive justice.
Watch the trailer for Who Killed Jill Dando?
All three episodes of Who Killed Jill Dando? are available on Netflix now.