MURDERED: But Essex Police will say nothing new until fraud trial ends (PA)
ESSEX Police is refusing to give any updates on its investigation into the murder of John "Goldfinger" Palmer until a Spanish judge reaches his verdict over a major timeshare fraud trial linked to the Brink's Mat gangster.
In January the trial of ten associates of Palmer, facing fraud charges in connection with his notorious timeshare scam thought to have netted him up to £300million, began in Madrid.
The judge retired three months ago and has yet to announce his verdict.
An Essex Police spokeswoman said: "We are waiting for the result of the trial before giving any updates about the murder investigation. The judge has been out for about three months and we do not know when it will be announced."
She would not go into whether any information that could assist the murder probe had emerged during the trial.
Essex Police’s main line of inquiry is that someone connected to the trial may have wanted him out of the way.
THEORY: DCI Stephen Jennings thinks the fraud trial holds the key to the murder (Essex Police/YouTube)
Last July lead investigator DCI Stephen Jennings said: “Before Mr Palmer’s death, and during the course of this investigation, there has been lots of speculation about his connections to organised criminals, specific high profile crimes, suggestions that he was a
police informant and further speculation that charges brought against him in Tenerife were about to be dropped.
“The key hypothesis is around John being due to stand trial in Spain.
“That trial is still to go ahead and because of the timing when that first went out, I believe that is why John was killed.
"That makes sense and that is what the evidence and intelligence is telling us.
“John was due to fly out to Spain just days after he was killed.
“active inquiries in and around Palmer and the upcoming trial in Spain” were underway to see if anyone involved in the case would have “benefited from his death”.
However, despite the focus on the trial, we can reveal the force did not send anyone out to monitor proceedings.
Ahead of the trial, a police spokeswoman told this website: "At the moment we are not attending the trial.
"The forthcoming trial in Madrid is a matter for the Spanish authorities.
"Given our ongoing investigation into the murder of John Palmer, our investigative team are fully aware of the impending proceedings.”
She said the decision not to send anyone was nothing to do with a lack of resources.
ACQUITTED: The charges against Christina Ketley were dropped (BBC)
Palmer's partner Christina Ketley, who shared the £800,000 home in Essex where he was shot dead in the garden in June 2015, was due to stand trial, but the case was dropped against her as it started on technical grounds as it was against two other defendants, leaving seven still in the frame.
Palmer had been charged with fraud, money laundering and firearms offences alongside the others in May 2015, just weeks before his assassination.
It was alleged that he continued to run the crime empire selling non-existent timeshares in holiday apartments from inside HMP Long Lartin aided by the other defendants.
Before his death, Palmer was facing up to 15 years in prison. He was first arrested in Spain in 2007, but not charged until 2015.
STING: John Palmer is confronted by TV investigative journalist Roger Cook in the 1990s (ITV/YouTube)
The Spanish indictment also alleges a 9mm Zastava pistol, found during a Tenerife raid, belonged to Palmer.
It says Palmer’s associates in Spain had their phones tapped and the kingpin was taped giving them orders from his British prison cell.
Palmer got his nickname after being acquitted of smelting gold bars stolen in the notorious 1983 Brink’s Mat robbery.
His killer stalked him through a small hole made in the garden fence before jumping over and firing six bullets from a silenced revolver.
The area of the garden was not covered by CCTV.
Five of the six bullets were found but there was no other forensic evidence.
There were suspicions among the criminal underworld after he was charged with the offences that he may have been about to turn “super grass”.
Last July, Ketley put up a £100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.