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Wednesday, April 28, 1999 Published at 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK


Dando murder: The weapon

The killer may have used a pistol like this 9mm Browning

The type of gun used to murder Jill Dando was common and easy for criminals to obtain.

Jill Dando 1961 - 1999
She was shot in the head at close range with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol, which can be bought for as little as £100 on the black market.

But there are so many different types that police have been unable to pinpoint which one the gunman used and experts have differing views.

In Italy and France, 9mm pistols can be bought legally with a licence and are used by street gangs.

Michael Ryan used a 9mm semi-automatic on his shooting spree in Hungerford, as did Thomas Hamilton, who murdered 16 schoolchildren and a teacher in Dunblane.

Police believe that gun fanatic Jason Curtis had been aiming to use this weapon when he planned to kill officers at Llandrindod Wells police station, Powys, before he was caught. Curtis was jailed for four years in 1997. Among weapons found at his home was a 9mm Beretta gun.

'Looks like a mobile phone'

One expert has speculated that Ms Dando's killer used a Beretta, an Italian-made pistol, popular among criminals worldwide.

Tony Hill, of the Gun Control Network, told The Guardian: "The Beretta is a small gun which could be easily confused with a mobile phone from a distance."

But criminologist Kate Broadhurst said the pistol was likely to have been a Browning or a Tanfoglio - the gun of a professional criminal, which could have been hired from a criminal armoury.

The gun was banned following the Dunblane massacre but hundreds are believed still to be in circulation.

Ms Broadhurst said a professional hitman could get one easily but a jilted lover or stalker would have great difficulty.

However, Dr Paul Britton, a consultant clinical and forensic pyschologist, said in his experience, contract killers used smaller calibre guns than the 9mm semi-automatic used to shoot Miss Dando.

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