Barry Lindsey says he was driving past the Crimewatch presenter’s home when he saw her looking terrified as her killer confronted her
Gunned down: TV star Jill
A vital witness believed to be the last person to see Jill Dando alive moments before her doorstep murder has come forward to claim that detectives IGNORED his evidence.
Barry Lindsey today reveals he was driving past the Crimewatch presenter’s home when he saw her looking terrified as her killer confronted her.
He considered intervening because she seemed so frightened, and hit his brakes. But he drove on only to hear the shot that killed her as he turned out of her road.
But when Mr Lindsey – distressed by what had happened – gave police a detailed description of the man Jill, 37, had been arguing with, he says they brushed it aside because they were obsessed with nailing Barry George, later wrongly convicted of her 1999 murder.
Mr Lindsey, now a 61-year-old grandfather, says: “I told officers they needed to find a man with olive skin, dark hair and who looked like he was of Mediterranean origin.
“But straight off, they said, ‘We are looking at a local guy over this murder. He is called Barry George’. They asked if I knew him and described what he looked like. But I told them, ‘That’s not the man I saw – I am 100 per cent sure of it’.
“As soon as those words left my mouth I felt like the police didn’t want to listen any more. The way they acted really took me by surprise.”
After giving the officers a statement, Mr Lindsey never heard from the police again. Weeks later they arrested their prime suspect. Mr George, 53, was convicted of Jill’s murder and served eight years before being freed on appeal.
Witness: Eye-witness Barry
In an exclusive Sunday Mirror interview last week, he told how the turmoil of the case had
left his life in tatters. And after reading the
emotional account, Mr Lindsey decided to end his years of silence over a day he says will
haunt him forever. Yesterday he revisited the spot where the TV star was killed and relived what happened. It is the first time he has been back since the shooting on April 26, 1999.
That morning the father of five was driving down Gowan Avenue in Fulham, South West London, in a green Toyota car. The retired print worker, who lived locally, was heading to Wimbledon to drop off the vehicle for a friend.
He says: “As I was driving along I glanced to my left and saw a woman arguing with a man.
“I hit the brakes, stopped in the middle of the road and looked through the back window. I will never forget the look on her face. It was one of absolute terror – her face had gone as white as the coat she was wearing.
“I considered getting out of the car but something in my head said, ‘don’t do it Barry’. A few years before, I had got involved in a domestic in the street and ended up in a fight with the man involved. I wound up in court. I didn’t want that to happen again.
“I looked one final time and saw her standing with her back to her front door. He was in front of her with his back to the road. I could see he had dark hair and looked Mediterranean.”
Day of death: Jill on CCTV
Mr Lindsey drove on. Then, as he turned left out of Gowan Avenue, he heard a gunshot.
“It could not have been anything else,” he says. “It was louder than a firework or a car backfiring. Instinctively, my foot hit the accelerator and I drove forward as fast as I could.”
The incident preyed on his mind for the rest of the day.
“When I got home that night, I flicked on the TV and saw the story about Jill Dando. I don’t watch TV that often so I had no idea who she was. But straight away I said to my wife, ‘I saw that woman today’. As I looked at the picture of her on the screen my blood ran cold.”
A retired printer, Mr Lindsey contacted a journalist he knew who was reporting on the case to reveal what he had seen. A short time later he was visited at home by two detectives investigating the Dando murder.
“I told the officers everything I had seen,” he says. “Within a few minutes they mentioned the name Barry George to me.
“They said he was a local guy who they were looking at in connection with the murder. I had seen pictures of him in the newspapers and told the officer there was no way that was the person I saw. For a start Barry George looked two stone heavier than the man I saw that morning.”
Officers then took Mr Lindsey to the murder scene where he repeated his account. “They kept asking again and again about Barry George,” he says. “They seemed frustrated when I said they needed to be looking for someone else.”
Mr Lindsey was surprised he never heard from police again. And it is even more surprising given the account provided by one witness at Barry George’s first trial. Helen Scott told the Old Bailey she noticed a man also of Mediterranean appearance with slightly olive skin, looking down towards Gowan Avenue the night before Jill died. It raises the possibility that she saw the same man described by Mr Lindsey hanging around Jill Dando’s home ahead of the murder.
Mr Lindsey says: “I expected the police to at least call back to take a second statement after Barry George was arrested. But I heard nothing.
“Eventually Barry George was charged and one TV news report even mentioned a man in a Range Rover who had seen an altercation on the morning she died. Presumably they were referring to me, but I never heard from the police again so I can’t say for sure. In the end I did start to question myself and what I might have seen that day. But deep down I knew what I saw.”
Mr Lindsey, who now lives in Woodford Green, East London, says he is ready to give police a new statement over the murder. “I’d be prepared to meet the police tomorrow,” he insisted.
“I don’t know what they could now do with my information but I can’t see how it would harm their chances of finding the person who killed that poor woman.
“It is such a tragic waste of a life. And it is really sad that Barry George has also ended up having his own life torn apart.”
In his first interview for five years last week, Mr George says police targeted him for the murder because his life was “disposable”.
Even when he was cleared at a 2008 retrial, he claims he was followed by officers around the clock and stopped and searched dozens of times before fleeing to Ireland with his sister in fear that he would be “fitted up” again.
He told us: “I hope it’s in my lifetime that the real killer is caught. Although I never met Jill Dando she was an innocent woman who was murdered and no person with any conscience could stand there and say they felt no compassion for her and her family.”
Despite a £587,000 forensic review, Scotland Yard did not find any new leads and the officers stopped investigating.
Mr George said: “The real killer is out there somewhere and the police aren’t looking for him. They needed someone to plug a hole and I was it. They victimised me and my life was disposable.”
Eye-witness Mr Lindsey also wants to see justice done and the killer caught.
He says: “I can’t help thinking that if the police had listened and looked at other suspects beyond Barry George then Jill Dando’s killer may now be in prison. They were clearly under pressure to get a result quickly because she was such a high profile victim. It was clear when I gave my statement that the officers had an idea in their mind of who they thought was responsible.
“I’m not saying what I told that day could have cracked the case but it might have helped lead officers in the right direction.
“I’d be happy to help them in the future in any way I can because I just want the person who did this brought to book.”
A spokesman for the Met said yesterday: “The case remains unsolved. As with all unsolved cases any evidence which we are presented with will be thoroughly examined by officers.”
An unlikely one in my opinion. He saw a frightened woman, what sounded like a gunshot but didn't contact the police there and then. Hmmm.
Previous topic on which the story appeared. http://www.jillhavern.forumotion.net/t7290-the-mystery-of-jill-dando-s-murder?highlight=jill+dando
May as well woosh this thread if possible.
Happy birthday (1 today) to a very silly story!