John 'Goldfinger' Palmer murder: Paramedics warned police of suspicious wounds

Telegraph Reporters
John

Paramedics called to the body of a renowned gangster alerted police to his suspicious chest wounds, but officers still failed to spot he had been shot six times, an internal inquiry has found.

John "Goldfinger" Palmer was initially thought to have died from natural causes soon after having gall bladder surgery, when he as found collapsed in the garden of his secluded home in 2015.

A post mortem later found the man once described as Britain’s richest criminal had been repeatedly shot with a silenced pistol, in a suspected contract killing.

John Palmer in the 1980s

An ambulance service case review has now disclosed a paramedic told police he doubted Mr Palmer’s wounds were from recent keyhole surgery. Police officers at the scene were "not concerned".

Essex Police said the two officers had been disciplined "for failing to fully comply with Essex Police policy on dealing with sudden deaths" but their actions had not amounted to gross misconduct.

An inquest found Mr Palmer was probably shot outside his home in South Weald, near Brentwood by a professional assassin using an 8mm .32 calibre pistol fitted with a silencer.

The first paramedic at the scene found him on the ground "with large amounts of blood around the top of his shirt" and his son trying to save his life, the review said.

Police at the home of notorious British criminal John "Goldfinger" Palmer, as police have launched a murder enquiry after he was found shot dead by his family at the address in South Weald, Brentwood, on June 24 - Credit: PA

The paramedics found a number of "small wounds in various stages of coagulation" on Mr Palmer's chest and abdomen and his son said he was "unsure" if they were related to the surgery.

One unnamed paramedic "did not feel the wounds were consistent with keyhole surgery to the gall bladder due, to the location and the fact they were not covered or stitched."

"He states that he raised the matter with other clinicians on scene and the police officers but they were not concerned."

It goes on to say the police inspected the body on their arrival, and found "another similar wound on the patient's back" - though the report does not state whether or not this was a bullet exit wound.

One paramedic then speculated with a colleague about whether the wounds could have been caused by gunshots, though this was later described as “an off-the-cuff remark".

The ambulance service concluded however it was "reasonable" paramedics at the scene "accepted the explanation of the injuries they were presented with" given Mr Palmer's recent operation.

In a statement, Essex Police said its officers were "given information that Mr Palmer had recently had surgery and that this could account for his injuries.

"However, they did not carry out a full examination of the body, which would likely have raised suspicions about his injuries," the statement continued.

"They also did not call an inspector to the scene to confirm their assessment, or check Mr Palmer's antecedents on the police national computer.

"Given the full circumstances of the information they were presented with at the time, it was judged that this did not amount to gross misconduct and they have been given management action for failing to fully comply with Essex Police policy on dealing with sudden deaths."

Mr Palmer’s inquest heard he had been moving around his extensive grounds on a green six-wheel garden buggy when his assassin struck.

Police believe the gunman lay in wait behind a six-foot wooden fence and monitored Mr Palmer’s movements through a discreet spy hole that had been drilled in the fence.

Detectives investigating Mr Palmer’s murder in December admitted they were “not even close” to identifying his killer.

Mr Palmer earned his nickname after being implicated in the infamous Brink’s-Mat gold bullion heist in 1983, and in 2001 was jailed for a £20m timeshare fraud in Tenerife. At the time of his death he was due to stand trial in Spain on charges of fraud, firearm possession and money laundering.

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