Jill Dando: golden girl of television

The Crimewatch presenter Jill Dando was deeply in love and planning to marry when she was gunned down on her doorstep.

She was truly the "Golden Girl" of British television who had proved herself as a journalist and a presenter of programmes as varied as Crimewatch and Holiday.

Born in Weston-super-Mare, she rose through the ranks of local journalism to co-present the BBC Breakfast News in 1988.

In November 1997, a year after the end of a seven-year relationship with BBC news executive Bob Wheaton, she met consultant gynaecologist Alan Farthing.

A month later they travelled to Australia together and Miss Dando was soon spending most of her time with him at his home in Chiswick, west London.

"It was apparent to all of those who knew them that the couple were deeply in love," said prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw QC.

Mr Farthing, who worked at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, and Miss Dando announced their engagement in January 1999.

The wedding was set for September 25 1999 and the couple decided to sell their homes and put in an offer for another property.

Police discovered newspapers carrying reports of the relationship and the plans to marry when they searched Barry George's home.

Mr Laidlaw told jurors: "Jill Dando is universally described as a genuinely warm, kind and generous woman.

"She was very popular with her colleagues and the public at large, easy to work with, and had none of the pretensions that are sometimes associated with those who achieve fame."

He added that Miss Dando "inevitably" received unwelcome attention.

On one occasion an elderly man "who was infatuated with her" delivered an "admiring letter" to her home address.

Mr Farthing, 44, said after George won his appeal last year: "I am disappointed, particularly for those of us who have suffered the tragedy of losing a loved one prematurely."

Earlier this year, he married Janet Stowell, 30, a junior hospital doctor.

Relatives and friends of Miss Dando were said to be "extremely pleased" for him.

They met five years ago, when Dr Stowell was completing her training to become a doctor at St Mary's Hospital.

The couple have appealed for privacy and Mr Farthing was not at the retrial.

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