John 'Goldfinger' Palmer: Mysterious murder of cocaine-fueled conman with "16,000 reasons to die"

Ex-convict John 'Goldfinger' Palmer's life of crime came to an end in 2015 when he was killed in his own garden by an unidentified assassin who has never been located since.

                            John 'Goldfinger' Palmer: Mysterious murder of cocaine-fueled conman with "16,000 reasons to die"
(Source:Getty Images)

John "Goldfinger" Palmer, a notorious gangland boss, had about 16,000 reasons to die the day he was shot outside his home in Essex, authorities have said. The underworld lord's life of crime came to an end in 2015 when he was killed in his own garden by an unidentified assassin who has never been located since.

The authorities have said that any of his 16,000 fraud victims would have had enough motive to murder him. Palmer had made his way from market trader to a multimillionaire through fraud, money laundering, and racketeering. He is most infamous for melting down gold bars that had been a part of the £26million Brink's-Mat burglary in 1983. Palmer's estranged wife, Marnie lives in the West Country.

She has now written a book about the incredible life she led with the man who is considered Britain's top gangster. The book, entitled "Goldfinger and Me", reveals the life Marnie led with Palmer and the roller coaster of a marriage that the couple led, reported The Sun. She had spoken out before about how furious she was that the police had muddled up the murder investigation into her husband's death. 

She said in an interview, "Detectives refer to it as the “golden hour” — the time immediately after the discovery of a body in a murder investigation when they are most likely to find the best clues. In my husband’s case, they didn’t just lose an hour, they lost a week. It was one of the most hopeless starts to a murder investigation in police history. I’m no expert in detective work and I’m certainly no authority on forensics, but you would imagine any call to HQ that started: 'Body believed to be John Palmer found at Sandpit Lane, South Weald' would arouse at least a flicker of interest from any officer. Police had been monitoring the place for more than a decade. And for 30 years John had been a top target after he was cleared of melting down gold bars from the Brink’s-Mat robbery when he said he didn’t know they were stolen."

Palmer used to run a gold and jewelry dealing company called Scadlynn Ltd with his business partners Garth Chappell and Terence Patch in Bedminster, Bristol. He and Chappell had been arrested when they were working together selling furniture in 1980. The two of them had been charged with obtaining credit on furniture after providing false references. Palmer got a six-month suspended prison sentence.

In 1985, two years after the Brinks-Mat robbery in November 1983, Chappell and Patch were arrested for being involved in the melting down of £26 million worth of gold that was taken from the robbery after they tried to make it look genuine. Chappell was found to have withdrawn £348,000 from the company accounts only two days after the armed robbers, Brian Robinson and Micky McAvoy, were put in jail. Over the course of the trial, a total withdrawal of £1.1 million had been taken from the account. 

When the authorities were conducting the raids, the suspects involved had refused to say what they had been melting down that same morning. It was also later revealed that the company had been processing millions worth of gold but had been claiming that all the gold was what they purchased themselves.

The company's records showed that they had been selling the melted down gold for almost the same amount that they had bought it for and this did not make any sense unless, of course, the records were false. The documents were confiscated and they showed that the company had been evading tax. A court ordered the company to pay up the £80,000 in unpaid tax.

Palmer had managed to stay away from being arrested at the time after he fled to Tenerife with his family only days before his company had been raided and it's two directors were arrested. His family had gone back to England while he was busy setting up a timeshare business at the Island Village close to Playa de las Americas after selling the remaining assets.

He tried to move to Brazil after the Spanish government signed an extradition treaty with the UK but he was detained and his entry into the country was denied because he had been traveling on an expired passport. He was eventually forced to face a trial after he was deported back to the UK.

In spite of the infamous conman admitting that he had melted down the gold bars from the robbery in his own garden, he was acquitted in the trial that took place in 1987 after he claimed that he was not aware the gold had been stolen. Chappell had been sentenced to 10 years in prison in the trial that took place when Palmer was on the run.

On June 24, 2015, at the age of 64, Palmer was murdered in his home in South Weald close to Brentwood, Essex after receiving a gunshot wound to the chest. It was only found out during the post-mortem examination that he had been shot because it had been mistaken for a wound from the open-heart surgery he had gotten before the murder.

It was also revealed at the time that he was murdered that he had charges pending against him in Spain for fraud, firearm possession, and money laundering. Around this time, it was also revealed that aside from his nefarious activities in Spain, he had also opened the first Russian timeshare back in the 1990s. It has been suggested that he initially had a secret service connection but that he had lost the Russian business to some rivals.

Marnie Palmer has found love again since her estranged husband's murder. She has said that she enjoys her life now with two Jack Russell terriers and gardening. She has also said that she does not intend to buy any timeshare during her retirement.