A BLONDE 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”.
BBC newsreader and Crimewatch host Jill, 37, died of a gunshot wound to the head outside her home in Fulham, West London, in 1999.
Loner Barry George, now 62, was arrested for her murder and jailed for life in 2001.
But his conviction was later quashed before he was acquitted at a second trial in 2008.
Despite more than 2,000 potential suspects and a string of conspiracy theories, the killer has not been found.
But a new Netflix documentary airing today – Who Killed Jill Dando? – hopes to shed light on the cold case.
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It comes as the theory that Jill was murdered by a Russian hitman in a case of mistaken identity recently emerged through bombshell French court documents.
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 tycoon 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”.
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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 had been engaged to her fiance Dr Alan Farthing rather than married – and Brinkworth had been one of his patients.
On the morning of April 26, 1999, Jill left Farthing's home in Chiswick.
She returned alone, by car, to the house she owned in Fulham, West London.
But as Jill reached her front door at about 11:32am, she was shot once in the head.
Her body was discovered about 14 minutes later by a neighbour.Jill was taken to the nearby Charing Cross Hospital where she was declared dead on arrival at 1:03pm.
The police turned their attention to George, who lived about half a mile from Dando's house, shortly after her murder.
He had a history of stalking women, sexual offences and other antisocial and attention seeking behaviour.
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.
Concern about this conviction was widespread on the basis that the case against George appeared thin.
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.
Other theories surrounding the murder include that it was an IRA attack.
There has also been speculation that Jill's murder was a hit by a London underworld gang after she reported on them for Crimewatch.
And some believe it was a revenge killing by Serbian warlords after the journalist fronted an appeal for Kosovan refugees.
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As well as speaking to relatives, friends and co-workers of Jill, the show will also speak to Barry George – who is seen in the trailer saying he had eight years of his life taken away from him.
Who Killed Jill Dando? is on Netflix on from today.
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