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Tuesday, 8 May, 2001, 17:54 GMT 18:54 UK
Fiance's last hours with Jill
Jill Dando
The BBC televison presenter was due to marry
The last moments Jill Dando spent with her fiance have been described to the jury in the trial of the man accused of killing the television presenter.

Alan Farthing, a consultant at St Mary's Hospital in London, was due to marry Miss Dando on 25 September 1999, but she was murdered that April.

On the morning of her death the BBC television presenter got up to make breakfast for her fiance.

By lunchtime on 26 April 26 Mr Farthing had learned the devastating news that Miss Dando had been shot dead on her doorstep at her Fulham home.

Barry George, from Fulham, west London, pleads not guilty to the murder of the 37-year-old BBC presenter.


We hit it off and very quickly fell in love

Alan Farthing

In a statement read to the Old Bailey on Tuesday, Mr Farthing said that on the day before Miss Dando's death the couple had had lunch with friends before spending a quiet evening at home writing letters.

The following day, Mr Farthing got up at 0645BST to get ready for work.

"Jill woke up. Sometimes she had difficulty in getting back to sleep. She reset the alarm.

Alan Farthing
Alan Farthing met Jill Dando through a colleague

"I showered. She offered to get some breakfast for me. I told her not to bother," he said.

But he found that "she had made some tea and bowl of cereal for me and gone back to bed".

At 1330BST he learned of her death.

Mr Farthing was in court to hear his statement read out by Jonathan Laidlaw, for the prosecution, but he showed no emotion.

Romance

It said that he had first met Miss Dando in October 1997 through a colleague, Jenny.

"Jenny's aim for Jill and I to meet was a match-making exercise."

Their first dinner date was on 23 November. "We hit it off and very quickly fell in love," said Mr Farthing.

Mr Farthing invited Miss Dando to join him in Australia for the New Year and "was delighted when she agreed".

They spent a week in Sydney and he continued to Adelaide to see friends after she left, adding that on his return "Jill met me at Heathrow".

Mr Farthing - who had bought a house in Chiswick, south west London, said he was separated from his wife Maria. They divorced in 1998.

He said that his fiancee had been in a seven-year relationship with a man who was her boss at BBC Breakfast Time.

"After they split up they would talk on the telephone once a week. They had a platonic relationship. After the engagement was announced, the calls ceased," he said.

'Unsettling phone call'

Mr Farthing said that Jill told him she had received mail from an admirer from a number of years. They had been passed on to her from the Television Centre.

"The tone was always complimentary and occasionally asked for a meeting. I later discovered it was from an elderly man in Kent who also called at the studio in an attempt to speak to her and turned up saying he had an appointment to see her."

To his knowledge they never met. "Sometime in March 1998, Jill received another letter from this admirer, delivered to her home in Fulham. This unsettled Jill and we discussed the matter."

She approached the BBC's security department. Information soon became public knowledge, said Mr Farthing A number of articles appeared in newspapers. She received no more letters from the man.

Jill had received other letters, he said "but none caused her concern or were of a threatening nature".

The trial continues.

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