'I found Jill's body covered in blood,' weeps friend

A friend of Jill Dando described her 'complete horror' yesterday at finding the body of the shot TV presenter on her doorstep.

Helen Doble wept as she told how she had been expecting to bump into Miss Dando for a chat that morning - but stumbled instead across the 'terrible, terrible scene' of her friend covered in blood.

'It was just incredible that with one step, everything changed,' she said.

But it took a few seconds to sink in that such a violent scene had happened 'in broad daylight in a normal street', she said.

The coincidence that the first person on the scene was a friend of the Crimewatch UK presenter emerged for the first time at the Old Bailey yesterday.

Miss Doble, who also worked in TV, was giving evidence on the fifth day of the trial of Barry Michael George, who denies murdering Miss Dando.

She told the court she lived close to Miss Dando's home in Gowan Avenue, Fulham, and they would often come across each other.

'She was always very friendly and was interested in my daughter, and how I juggled my work life with life as a lone parent.'

On April 26, 1999 Miss Doble saw her friend's car in Gowan Avenue and went towards her front door hoping to meet her.

'That was when I found her.' she told the jury. It was 'completely horrific. It took me a few seconds to realise it was Jill, because she looked the way she looked'.

Junior prosecuting counsel Jonathan Laidlaw asked: 'Was it clear to you that she was very seriously injured, if not already dead at that stage?'

Miss Doble bowed her head and replied: 'It was clear to me that she was dead.'

She dialled 999 on her mobile phone and ran to a friend's house. 'I just needed to know that a friend who I trusted could be with me and say yes, this is actually happening, in broad daylight, in a normal street,' she added.

Earlier, the court heard that Miss Dando's body was lying for up to five minutes on her doorstep after she was shot through the head by her attacker. Seconds after Miss Dando had parked her car, her next-door neighbour heard a single scream.

But Richard Hughes thought the scream was simply 'somebody surprising somebody', and did not attach any significance to it.

It was five minutes later that he heard voices outside her house - and went downstairs to see the TV presenter lying on her front path.

The haunting last moments were described to the jury as Miss Dando's fiance Alan Farthing and close friend Nick Ross sat a few feet from 41-year-old George.

Mr Hughes had been Jill Dando's neighbour for four months. He told the court that the TV presenter was not there all the time, but usually visited on Mondays.

It was a Monday morning that Miss Dando returned to Gowan Avenue in her car.

Mr Hughes, described at the time as a 32-year- old financial trader, said that some time after 11.30am he had heard a car alarm being primed.

Five seconds later, he heard footsteps on the path next door.

'The next thing I heard was a scream,' he said. 'It was a female scream.' He added: 'I thought it was somebody surprising somebody. The next thing I heard was the click of the gate.'

He looked out of his window and saw a man walking away.

Mr Hughes said he saw the left side of the man's face and got a clear view for a period of seconds.

The man was in his mid 30s, thick-set, with a thick, dark mop of hair, he said. He had a 'jowly' face.

The man, who walked away 'quite briskly', wore a dark Barbour-style waxed coat and appeared to be carrying a mobile phone.

At an identification parade in May last year, Mr Hughes failed to identify Barry George as the man he had seen that day.

In cross examination he told Mr Michael Mansfield, QC, that he had never seen anyone hanging around outside the house and had not heard a gunshot.

The case continues.

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