NOTORIOUS Solihull gangster John ‘Goldfinger’ Palmer may have been murdered by a professional hitman.
It is rumoured the 65-year-old criminal was shot because of his links to the Hatton Garden heist.
Palmer was found dead in the garden of his country mansion off Sandpit Lane in South Weald, Essex, on June 24 last year – two months after the £14million raid and a month after nine men were arrested.
DCI Stephen Jennings said: “We are absolutely convinced this was a professional hit and our investigation is very much a search not just for the gunman but for the person or people who commissioned his murder.”
Palmer had been burning rubbish in his garden when it is believed the killer came over a garden fence and shot him with a handgun. He managed to stagger a short distance towards the house before collapsing and being found by his son’s girlfriend.
No gun shots were heard and the murder took place in a part of the garden not covered by CCTV.
His body was discovered at about 5.30pm before a forensic post-mortem revealed he had been shot six times.
A murder investigation was launched – a team of around 20 detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate have been working to establish the reason behind his death.
Detectives have now released CCTV footage of Palmer in his garden captured around ten to 12 minutes before his murder.
DCI Jennings appeared on BBC’s Crimewatch, on Thursday, to appeal for help to identify some men seen near Palmer’s home.
Two or three men were seen digging in woodland at about 11.50am the day before the murder.
One of the men was aged between 30 and 40, just under 6ft tall and of an average build with dark hair.
They also wanted to identify a man who was seen in Weald Country Park next to Palmer’s home at about 5.50pm on the day he was shot.
The man was white, in his early 20s, around 5ft 10in tall, of a slim build and had short dark blond hair. He was wearing light blue jeans and a light coloured baggy sweat top
DCI Jennings said: “John Palmer had a significant criminal history in both the UK and Europe and was due to stand trial in Spain for property fraud.
“As a result there are a number of associates we need to identify and explore as part of our investigation.”
As part of the Crimewatch appeal, Palmer’s partner Christina Ketley, 56, said: “Without a doubt he has made mistakes in his life. I believe he has paid for those mistakes. I was incredibly proud of the way he had readjusted to a very very normal life.”
His son James, 24, added: “There was never a day that passed, that I spent with him, that he wasn’t laughing or joking around.
“He was never serious about anything and the time I did spend with him was quality time.”
Anyone with any information should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.