Presenter was 'deeply in love' and planning wedding

Crimewatch presenter Jill Dando was “deeply in love” and planning to marry when she was gunned down on her doorstep, a court heard today.

Miss Dando was regarded as a “genuinely warm, kind and generous woman”, jurors at the Old Bailey were told.

The court how the 37-year-old, born in Weston-super-Mare, had risen through the ranks of local journalism to co-present the BBC Breakfast News in 1988.

She moved to London, sharing a home with her cousin Judith before buying her own property in Fulham in 1994.

By now, Miss Dando was travelling the world as a presenter for the Holiday Programme and also working on Crimewatch.

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

A month later they travelled to Australia together and Miss Dando was soon spending most of her time with the gynaecologist, who was separated, 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 Mr Laidlaw.

Mr Farthing, who worked at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, was divorced in November 1998 and two months later he and Miss Dando announced their engagement.

The wedding was set for September 25 1999 and the couple decided to sell their homes and put in an offer for a property in Warwick Avenue, west London.

Police discovered newspapers carrying reports of the relationship and the plans to marry when they searched Barry George’s home in 2000, the court heard.

Mr Laidlaw said: “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 and elderly man “who was infatuated with her” delivered an “admiring letter” to her home address.

But there was “no suggestion” that this man meant her any harm and “still less” that he was responsible for her death, said Mr Laidlaw.

There was also no evidence that she or her Crimewatch co-presenter Nick Ross were ever targeted by criminals as a result of her work on the programme.

Mr Laidlaw said: “Miss Dando expressed no concerns about her well being. She was looking forward to reducing her commitments and starting a family.

“Whilst some may have envied her success, her many friends and colleagues were at a loss to identify anybody who would want her dead.

“There is certainly no evidence that anybody other than this defendant was involved in her murder.”

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