Line of Duty fans detect similarities between TV plot and 1999 Jill Dando murder

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THE investigation at the heart of Line Of Duty’s new series has given millions of viewers a grim case of deja vu.

The latest head-spinning storyline has the fictional anti-corruption unit AC-12 probing an investigation into the killing of TV journalist Gail Vella.

BBC

Line of Duty fans detect similarities between the TV plot and the 1999 Jill Dando murder[/caption]

And as episode two of the hit BBC1 thriller unfolded on Sunday night, it bore increasing similarities to the shocking real-life murder of popular telly host and newsreader Jill Dando in 1999.

Both Jill and Line Of Duty’s Gail were killed on their doorstep by a single shot to the head, believed to have been inflicted by a lone gunman.

Both were looking into the murky world of paedophilia among powerful figures.

Line Of Duty creator Jed Mercurio has confirmed he draws inspiration from actual events.

BBC

Martin Compston stars as DS Steve Arnott[/caption]

They include the shooting by Met Police of Jean Charles de Menezes at London’s Stockwell Tube station in 2005 as well as the wrongful conviction of Stefan Kiszko.

And viewers of the show, which returned to our screens this month with almost ten million fans tuning in, were swift to point out echoes of real life in the latest plot.

Katie Cherry tweeted: “Line Of Duty — the storyline. A reporter is murdered. Jimmy Savile mentioned. Corruption.

“A fan of reporter mentioned. Can’t help thinking Jill Dando here.”

BBC

DCI Joanne Davidson is played by actress Kelly Macdonald[/caption]

Former BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw added: “Parts of the plot seem to draw on the Jill Dando murder and the subsequent arrest of an ‘oddball’ with a fascination for celebrities, firearms residue found, a hitman-style killing.”

Police investigating Jill’s murder had few leads to go on. And as with Line Of Duty’s fictional murder — with Vicky McClure’s DI Kate Fleming now on the case — it remains unsolved.

We run through some of the key similarities between the two cases.

Clue 1: Suspects

Similarities between the suspect in Line Of Duty and the Jill Dando case appear to be deliberate.

An early theory put forward by police investigating Jill’s murder was that the culprit was an obsessed fan.

PA:Press Association

Barry George leaves the Old Bailey in London after he was cleared of murdering Jill Dando[/caption]

It led them to look at Barry George, who lived near her West London home. Locals described him as “odd”.

Officers found he had been known by other names and a search of his home found he had a fascination with the BBC and celebrities, plus newspaper cuttings relating to Jill’s death.

He was convicted in 2001 and jailed but seven years later was acquitted.

Line Of Duty creator Jed Mercurio has spoken of miscarriages of justice in talks for the show.

‘REALLY RELEVANT CORRELATES’

He said: “Barry George, who was convicted and then acquitted of the Jill Dando murder – there are really relevant correlates in the British system.”

The suspect for the Gail Vella murder in Line Of Duty, Terry Boyle (Tommy Jessop) is using an alias: Ross Turner.

A search of his flat revealed pictures on his wall of Gail, who he described during questioning as a “nice lady”.

The character, who has Down’s syndrome, was branded “the local oddball” in the series opener by AC-12 boss Supt Ted Hastings, played by Adrian Dunbar.

The suspect brought in for questioning was Terry Boyle, played by Tommy Jessop

Jed was forced to defend the adjective and confirmed the inspiration for the storyline by specifically referencing the Jill Dando case.

He tweeted: “‘Oddball’ has no connotation for learning difficulties.

“It describes a loner, an eccentric . . . the drama is using the term to refer to the Dando case.”

Clue 2: Evidence

Key evidence in the Jill Dando investigation included gunpowder residue found at the scene of her murder.

Material found in the lining of Barry George’s coat pocket matched residue found in her hair.

Boyle is arrested by DCI Joanne Davidson over the Gail Vella murder

It was just 1,000th of an inch in diameter and its credibility would later be fiercely contested in court.

Senior Met detective Hamish Campbell said at the time: “I thought that was a striking piece of evidence. What a coincidence. Whoever killed Jill had the ability to be there on the Monday, had knowledge of stalking and firearms.

“I was looking at a man who lived locally, had no job, stalked women and had a tendency to lash out when frustrated.”

In 2006, George’s lawyers appealed, saying that he was not mentally capable of carrying out the murder.

BBC

AC-12’s DS Steve Arnott, played by Martin Compston, points out the gunshot residue[/caption]

And it was argued the gunshot residue found on his clothing might have got there via armed officers at his arrest.

In Line Of Duty, gunshot residue is found on an “item of outer clothing” belonging to Boyle.

He is arrested by DCI Joanne Davidson (Kelly Macdonald), who suggests Boyle wanted a sexual relationship with Gail and was angry he could not be with her. He is yet to be charged and has been released on conditional bail.

AC-12’s DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) points out the gunshot residue is “below the threshold amount you’d expect if Boyle had been holding the gun”.

Clue 3: Victims

Key evidence in the Jill Dando investigation included gunpowder residue found at the scene of her murder.

Material found in the lining of Barry George’s coat pocket matched residue found in her hair.

PA:Press Association

Television presenter Jill Dando was shot dead outside her London home[/caption]

It was just 1,000th of an inch in diameter and its credibility would later be fiercely contested in court.

Senior Met detective Hamish Campbell said at the time: “I thought that was a striking piece of evidence. What a coincidence. Whoever killed Jill had the ability to be there on the Monday, had knowledge of stalking and firearms.

“I was looking at a man who lived locally, had no job, stalked women and had a tendency to lash out when frustrated.”

In 2006, George’s lawyers appealed, saying that he was not mentally capable of carrying out the murder.

BBC

Gail Vella is played by 48-year-old Andi Osho[/caption]

And it was argued the gunshot residue found on his clothing might have got there via armed officers at his arrest.

In Line Of Duty, gunshot residue is found on an “item of outer clothing” belonging to Boyle. He is arrested by DCI Joanne Davidson (Kelly Macdonald), who suggests Boyle wanted a sexual relationship with Gail and was angry he could not be with her.

He is yet to be charged and has been released on conditional bail.

AC-12’s DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) points out the gunshot residue is “below the threshold amount you’d expect if Boyle had been holding the gun”.

Clue 4: Method

Tragic Jill was shot on her doorstep by a killer who pressed the gun to her head. A forensic study indicated the bullet was from a 9mm automatic pistol.

Investigative journalist Bob Woffinden, who covered the trial of Barry George, said in 2002: “As Dando was about to put her keys in the lock to open the front door of her home in Fulham, she was grabbed from behind.

BBC

Superintendent Ted Hastings and DS Steve Arnott[/caption]

“With his right arm, the assailant held her and forced her to the ground, so her face was almost touching the tiled step of the porch.

“Then, with his left hand he fired a single shot at her left temple, killing her instantly.

“The bullet entered her head just above her ear, parallel to the ground, and came out the right side of her head.”

Similarly, the character of Gail Vella was shot dead outside her own home after getting out of her car.

BBC

Gail Vella was shot dead outside her own home after getting out of her car[/caption]

The gun was pressed against her head to muffle the sound and reduce debris from the gunshot.

Screen copper Steve Arnott says: “Gail Vella’s Peugeot 108 was intercepted.

“As Ms Vella got out of the vehicle, she was murdered with a single gunshot carried out using a hard-contact method, in which the muzzle of the pistol was forced against the back of Ms Vella’s head.

“This technique confines noise and gunpowder.”

Clue 5: The Case

Many theories have been floated over why Jill Dando was murdered.

Some claim it was to prevent her exposing a major scandal, perhaps a professional hit ordered by a criminal family.

BBC

DI Kate Fleming is played by Vicky McClure[/caption]

They point to the close contact of the gun against her head, a technique used to limit blood loss and incriminating residue.

In a 2017, ex-policeman Mark Williams-Thomas quizzed a mystery hitman who claimed he knew who pulled the trigger – but refused to name him.

Others say the Serb mafia killed Jill after she fronted a BBC appeal on behalf of Kosovan-Albanian refugees driven from their homes by pro-Serbian militia.

Detectives also got a tip-off saying her murder was retaliation for a Nato strike on Serbian TV on April 23, three days before Jill’s murder, in which 16 people died

PA:Press Association

Operation Yewtree, involved a VIP paedophile ring – including Jimmy Savile[/caption]

But the theory most like Line Of Duty’s case is that Jill was about to expose a VIP paedophile ring including some “surprisingly big names”.


On Sunday, viewers learned Gail had doubts over the findings of Operation Pear Tree which, like the real-life Operation Yewtree, involved a VIP paedophile ring – including predator Jimmy Savile.

A producer colleague told how Gail was “pursuing several senior officers” and digging into “why there’d been a suppression of police inquiries”.

And Supt Hastings claims another suspect, Carl Banks, murdered Gail “on the orders of organised crime”.

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