Police urged to reopen Jill Dando case amid claims wanted man ‘looks like Serbian hitman’

Jill Dando died on Gowan Avenue in Fulham (Courtesy of Netflix )
Jill Dando died on Gowan Avenue in Fulham (Courtesy of Netflix )

Lawyers for the man wrongly convicted of shooting dead TV presenter Jill Dando on her doorstep have called for police to reopen the case to look at a jailed Serbian assassin.

A facial comparison expert claims Milorad Ulemek, a twice-convicted killer serving 40 years in Serbia, shares a number of similarities with a man seen near the scene in Fulham 25 years ago.

The person – who became known as Man X – was caught on CCTV following the gunman’s likely escape route after BBC Crimewatch host Dando died on Gowan Avenue just after 11.30am on Monday, April 26, 1999.

Scotland Yard’s prime suspect Barry George, now 64, was originally convicted of murder in 2001 and imprisoned for eight years before later being acquitted and released after a retrial.

Michael Mansfield KC, the barrister who defended George at his first trial, believes the suspect could have been a Serbian hitman.

He told the Daily Mirror, which published expert Emi Polito’s findings: “I would call for there to be a review and for the investigation to be resuscitated.

“There was a recent Netflix show called Who Killed Jill Dando? Well, you may have the answer.

“The Metropolitan Police has a duty to Jill’s family and loved ones, to Barry George and the public to fully investigate this new line of inquiry uncovered by the Daily Mirror.

Milorad Ulemek (AFP via Getty Images)
Milorad Ulemek (AFP via Getty Images)

“This should include a full forensic examination of the original CCTV of the man, all recovered finger and palm prints and to ascertain the movements of Ulemek at the time.”

Ms Dando’s brother Nigel Dando, 72, told the newspaper: “I’m always interested in any new lines of inquiry about Jill’s death, especially if they might lead to somebody being arrested and convicted of her murder.”

George, now 64, also urged police to investigate the new report.

He said: “If he’s committed that crime then he should be brought from Serbia and be dealt with through the courts.”

Ms Dando’s murder left the entire nation in a state of shock and sparked one of the UK’s largest homicide investigations.

But the police probe was bungled and prosecutors put too much importance on a single speck of firearms residue found in George’s coat.

At the time of Jill’s death, 56-year-old hitman Ulemek led a squad targeting those opposing dictator Slobodan Milosevic.

The tragic broadcaster had made an appeal for Kosovan refugees dying at the hands of his forces.

Nigel Dando, Jill Dando and their father Jack Dando (Courtesy of Netflix)
Nigel Dando, Jill Dando and their father Jack Dando (Courtesy of Netflix)

Within hours of her passing, a call was made to the BBC claiming the hit was in response to British planes bombing Serbia.

Mr Polito, who gives expert evidence for the police, said based on CCTV, Man X and Serb killer Ulemek have a similar shaped mouth, chin, hairline and right sideburn, while the general shape and sizes of their noses and right ear were the same.

His report concluded: “Within the imagery limitations, no differences were found between Man X and Mr [Ulemek].”

But he could only give limited support to them being the same person because of a lack of detail in the blurry footage.

Mr Polito added it may be possible to make a more definitive finding with better quality CCTV.

Ulemek's lawyer Aleksander Kovacevic reportedly said the killer did not wish to comment about Ms Dando, adding: “He is not interested in participating.”

The Met told the Standard: “On the 25th anniversary of Jill Dando’s murder, our thoughts remain with her family and all those affected by her death.

Barry George, left, was cleared of killing Jill Dando
Barry George, left, was cleared of killing Jill Dando

“In the years since her murder, the investigation has been subject to numerous reviews, aiming to identify whether matters could be progressed with advances in technology and forensics.

“The investigation is now in an inactive phase, which means that it is not currently subject to routine reviews. However no unsolved murder is ever closed and detectives would consider any new information provided to assess whether it represented a new and realistic line of enquiry.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 or independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.