Dando namesake 'pestered by caller'

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Police hunting the killer of Jill Dando revealed yesterday that a man telephoned a woman with the same initial and surname asking for details of the television presenter months before she was shot dead. The suspect questioned the woman, who has no connection with Jill Dando, for about 10 minutes.

Ms Dando, 37, was killed by a single bullet from a 9mm handgun to the head outside her home in Fulham, west London on 26 April last year. Yesterday's disclosure adds weight to the theory that the Crimewatch presenter was being stalked by an obsessed fan.

Detective Chief Inspector Hamish Campbell, who is leading the inquiry, said the unknown man managed to engage "J Dando" in conversation in December 1998 and tried to extract as much information as he could. "It was a very polite, respectful call. She described him as a white person with no foreign accent," he said. The police have been unable to trace the call.

Scotland Yard detectives spoke to everyone with the surname of Dando to discover whether they had been contacted by the suspect, but did not find any other pest-call victims.

Police yesterday issued new information about sightings of a key suspect in the killing and hope an appeal on last night's BBC Crimewatch programme will provide new leads. They are focusing on a man seen near Ms Dando's home in Gowan Avenue on the day of her murder and on several previous days. A dozen witnesses say they saw a man aged in his thirties to forties wearing a dark suit who appeared agitated. They described him as wearing a badly fitting suit, trilby and spectacles, which might have been a disguise.

On tonight's programme Det Ch Insp Campbell will appeal directly to the murderer and ask him to give himself up. He said: "I cannot say whether his fixation is transferred to someone else. The killing of Miss Dando has not resolved anything.

"My view is that the interest this person has in Jill Dando would not have developed in the months before her murder. It will be somebody who has had this interest developing over some time. We know of people who had an unhealthy interest in Jill Dando. They have been eliminated from the inquiry but there are more out there."