Dando Murder: Murder may have been work of professional hitman

THE MANNER of Jill Dando's death led to suspicion last night that her killer was a professional hitman.

Police sources were reported as saying they believed a professional killer was responsible, and speculation immediately centred on whether the killer may have borne a grudge as a result of Ms Dando's work with the Crimewatch television programme. It was a motive police had ruled out earlier in the day.

While there was no official confirmation of the line of inquiry, the disclosure of the results of the post-mortem examination raised the possibility of a contract killing. While anyone can get hold of a knife, access to handguns - banned by the Government in response to the Dunblane massacre - is much stricter. Such weapons are now largely confined to the underworld.

The fact that Ms Dando's neighbours in Fulham, including her next-door neighbour who discovered her body, did not hear a gun shot suggests the killer used a silencer or else muffled the noise of the shot with a cushion.

It was also pointed out that the manner of the shooting suggested it was performed by someone with a degree of expertise.

Doorstep assassination with a single bullet to the back of the head is a favoured method for professional killers. Witnesses said Ms Dando often returned to her home shortly before noon, which may indicate that the attack was carefully planned.

Speculation about the motive also turned on the fact that Ms Dando may have been killed by an obsessive stalker, although such people are far less likely to have access to firearms.

Ms Dando had already been the victim of a stalker, and experts said that if such a person was responsible her planned wedding this autumn was probably the catalyst. "Stalkers are often deluded and think that their affections are being returned," said Dr Sidney Crown, a consulting psychotherapist at the Royal London Hospital.

"If they feel that the person of their affections is being disloyal, by getting married to someone else, then they are more likely to become violent."

Ms Dando was stalked for four years by John Hole, a 62-year-old retired civil servant, who bombarded her with Valentine's cards, love letters and telephone calls. He ended his pursuit after the BBC sent him a warning letter. He is not under suspicion for yesterday's attack and said he was "very sad" to hear about her death.

It is believed that over 100 people a year become stalkers by harassing, intimidating, and threatening mostly powerless victims. In Britain, up to 5,000 people are thought to have become the target of a stalker in the past 12 months.

Anti-stalking legislation, the Protection from Harassment Act, was introduced in June 1997 after a string of cases in which criminal courts found themselves powerless to protect victims.

The Act gives courts the power to impose restraining orders against persistent stalking offenders, and breaches are punishable by a maximum of five years' imprisonment. In the last six months, more than 2,500 cases have been brought before the courts, with 1,250 people found guilty - but only 165 given a custodial sentence.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...

Recruitment Genius: Business Support Administrator - Part Time

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the South West'...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding business based in ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales - Business Broker - Scotland

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As an award winning and leading...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas