Had a few enemies then, did he?

The murder of notorious criminal John ‘Goldfinger’ Palmer, who knew the secrets of the Hatton Garden gang, is still baffling police who say there are 16,000 potential suspects.

40 comments on “Had a few enemies then, did he?

  1. They also weren’t quite sure how many times he’d been shot. You really wouldn’t want those cops on your side in a game of Cluedo would you.

  2. Also:

    “Officers initially thought Palmer’s bleeding was related to gallbladder surgery”

    He was shot six times in the chest…

    “Anatomy book for Essex Police STAT!”

  3. That is a remarkable article in many ways. The oddity is that he was shot with a 8 mm bullet. Not a popular choice that. The only people I can think of that used it were the Japanese in World War Two – although the Germans used a bullet for their assault rifles that was close enough to 8 mm for the police to confuse the two.

    Has anyone designed a gun that uses an 8 mm since 1945?

    Unless, of course, the bullet was not 8 mm. It is more likely that someone used an American gun than a 70 year old Nambu revolver. What would 8 mm be in inches? A Smith and Wesson Magnum would be 9 mm wouldn’t it? Is this the EU forcing the Mail to play stupid games?

  4. Palmer’s wealth was once estimated at £300m.

    He owned helicopters, a French chateau and a £1m mansion in Bath, and was once considered one of the biggest landowners on Tenerife.

    The hearing heard he was shot when he was using his garden burner to destroy documentation relating to a previous beauty salon business.

    A life of crime and he was shot dead destroying evidence of a problems with a beauty salon?

    How the mighty have fallen.

    Miss Ketley admitted her long-term partner had ‘made mistakes in his life’ but he ‘had paid for those mistakes’.

    He has now, honey buns. With luck he will be doing even more so now.

  5. @SMFS – 8mm is a little bit less than a .32 – would probably work, I imagine

    I heard many years ago that when Palmer was smelting gold on an industrial scale at his place near Bath, a local hobo went to the police station and said “There’s something funny going on at that house – sparks and smelting going on at all hours of the night”. Coppers ignored him – and if they’d raided the property they would have recovered the bulk of the Brinks Mat gold

  6. “Unless, of course, the bullet was not 8 mm. It is more likely that someone used an American gun than a 70 year old Nambu revolver. What would 8 mm be in inches? A Smith and Wesson Magnum would be 9 mm wouldn’t it? Is this the EU forcing the Mail to play stupid games?”

    Why SMFS shouldn’t do guns 🙂 What’s a “Smith & Wesson Magnum” when it’s at home? Are we talking a .357, a .41, a .44 or a .500 here? And there’s no firearm called a “smith & wesson magnum”…

    It’s entirely possible, given the competence displayed by the police, that they measured the diameter of the bullet and got something almost 8mm, and rounded it. Or, the bullet “set up” on being decelerated abruptly. Which would put it as any number of .32’s / 7.65’s. Or it’s a typo and should have been 9mm…

  7. “@SMFS – 8mm is a little bit less than a .32 – would probably work, I imagine”

    No, an 8mm cartrige has a *bigger* bullet than a .32. Around .321″-.323″-ish for an 8mm handgun cartridge, and .310-.312″-ish for a .32. You can’t just convert the calibre designations by multiplying or dividing by 25.4, since the .32 in .32 does not relate to any measurement of the bore or the bullet…

  8. abacab – “It’s entirely possible, given the competence displayed by the police, that they measured the diameter of the bullet and got something almost 8mm, and rounded it. Or, the bullet “set up” on being decelerated abruptly. Which would put it as any number of .32’s / 7.65’s.”

    The coroner seems on top of his game though. He is the one who, you know, spotted that the man had been shot. There is no point telling people what the bullet looks like *now*. The point is to help the police identify the gun. So the coroner must have said that the bullet was originally 8 mm. Or he said that it was originally something close to 8 mm.

    If this man was not shot with a World War Two assault rifle, it is likely he was shot with an American revolver. They did not say a shell casing had been found. Presumably a .32 or something similar. In which case telling people it was 8 mm is positively counter-productive.

    I stick by my conclusion that just as we cannot sell bananas in pounds because of the EU, the Mail can’t report guns in anything but millimetres.

  9. But I take your point about the Magnum. Indeed a mistake.

    Especially odd that I only think of the .32 as a Magnum even though, obviously, Harry Callahan used a .44 Magnum.

  10. The article said a “silenced pistol”.

    Don’t presume that the coroner can tell a .32 (likely; metric designation 7.65mm) from an 8mm (highly, highly unlikely. Someone cutting around with a silenced Roth-Steyr with antique ammo or something?), or understands the blindest bit about calibre designations.

    I reckon it’s either a typo or the coroner measured a bullet at “a bit shy of 8mm” (which would be a .32) and wrote 8mm.

  11. abacab – “The article said a “silenced pistol”.”

    Yeah but this may be one of those cases where nobody heard nothing. So if everyone *says* they heard nothing, what are the Keystone Kops going to conclude except that it was silenced?

    “I reckon it’s either a typo or the coroner measured a bullet at “a bit shy of 8mm” (which would be a .32) and wrote 8mm.”

    I would be surprised if the coroner did not look up a big fat textbook full of tables which uniquely identified the gun used by brand and type. So I reckon he told the police it was a .32, the police told the Mail it was a .32, but the Mail’s editors told their writers that they had to use metric units because it is the law. So they said 8 mm.

    Or of course it wasn’t a revolver, and they picked up a casing. Which would have helped identify the gun. But the same process is likely to have taken place.

  12. Would have been more interesting if he had been shot by an old Roman ballista, though it would have taken a while if he was shot six times and there wouldn’t be much left of him.

  13. Rob – “Would have been more interesting if he had been shot by an old Roman ballista, though it would have taken a while if he was shot six times and there wouldn’t be much left of him.”

    An elderly man, already weak due to gall bladder surgery a week earlier, is shot six times in the chest and he still has the strength to stagger 15 metres back towards the house?

    I don’t think we are dealing with professionals here.

    I can’t believe it took the work experience lad in the hospital to notice he was full of holes.

  14. He owned helicopters, a French chateau and a £1m mansion in Bath

    £1m wouldn’t get you a mansion in Bath, would it? And I bet the French chateau cost half of that.

  15. -Would have been more interesting if he had been shot by an old Roman Ballista,
    -Miss Ketley admitted her long-term partner had ‘made mistakes in his life’ but he ‘had paid for those mistakes’.

    If it were so it was a grievous fault and grievously hath Ceasar answered it.

  16. From the Telegraph :

    But at an inquest into his death on Tuesday, police confirmed that Mr Palmer had been shot six times probably by a professional assassin using an 8mm .32 calibre pistol fitted with a silencer.

  17. So Much For Subtlety said:
    “The hearing heard he was shot when he was using his garden burner to destroy documentation relating to a previous beauty salon business.
    A life of crime and he was shot dead destroying evidence of a problems with a beauty salon? How the mighty have fallen.”

    I assumed he was hiding the evidence that he was using it as a money laundering front. They’re not bad for that; rather like the original laundries, they’re cash businesses with very few variable costs so it’s easy to slip extra money through them.

  18. The 16000 suspects seems to relate to a failed timeshare scheme. You would have to be considerably disgruntled to either shoot the guy yourself or hire a killer over a timeshare, wouldn’t you? How much does a contract killer charge these days?

  19. Diogenes, about 60 quid in Manchester but he wouldn’t be a very good one, you could go for sheer numbers though to improve your chances of a successful hit.
    If you hire 40 of them it is still less than £2500 and large numbers of people are almost guaranteed to be shot, one of them might even be the target.

  20. Not a very good professional killer to shoot someone 8 times and still see them stagger away. Go for the head shot next time!

  21. “They also weren’t quite sure how many times he’d been shot. You really wouldn’t want those cops on your side in a game of Cluedo would you.”

    Isn’t that a bit daft? Surely it’s the pathologist who counts the holes, not the bobbies?

  22. That’s very helpful SE. However, I would have thought that if the internal construction of the silencer marked the bullet then it would have accuracy implications for the performance of the gun and the silencer itself would not last very long.

  23. However, I would have thought that if the internal construction of the silencer marked the bullet then it would have accuracy implications for the performance of the gun and the silencer itself would not last very long.

    Silencers do effect the accuracy, AFAIK.

  24. Diogenes,

    Suppressors only last for “a few” rounds: really good modern ones will be good for a few hundred rounds before you need to strip and clean them, older ones may be good for as few as a dozen shots before components need changing. (The example I’m thinking of is a Soviet one which used plastic wipes to baffle the expanding gases: cheap, waterproof, rustproof, but you changed the wipes each time you changed magazines). A home-made suppressor will be even worse and will, at short range, leave bits of baffle material sprayed over the target.

    More generally, one source for the “8mm” bullets – and the apparent lack of immediate lethality – might be that the weapon used is a conversion, rather than a “real gun”. 8mm fits that possibility because some blank-firers use that calibre and can be converted into rather dubious pistols. Usually smoothbore, sometimes using ball-bearings for ammo, so couple that to a home-made suppressor and you’ve got an inaccurate, low-velocity weapon: lethal enough to die from eventually, but not the sort of “Israeli hitman” job that Gerald Bull, for instance, had a terminal encounter with.

  25. Thanks Jason, I am still not clear that use of a suppressor necessarily alters the forensic signature of a bullet. One source suggests that there is a clearance of 1mm between the bullet path and the baffles in order to obviate the risk of baffle strike. But since a suppressor is a device clamped to the end of a gun, it seems difficult to believe that such a fine tolerance is achievable in practice. Is there a CSI episode about baffle strike?

  26. Definitely a converted starting pistol or something like that – no one walks away from six rounds to the chest and dies a bit later if the weapon involved is a proper functioning pistol.

  27. @Tim Newman, December 21, 2016 at 11:41 am
    “DM: He owned helicopters, a French chateau and a £1m mansion in Bath”

    £1m wouldn’t get you a mansion in Bath, would it? And I bet the French chateau cost half of that.

    Mansion (Daily Mail definition): Abode of any rich or allegedly rich bad person.

    eg Fred Goodwin’s Edinburgh Mansion – a bog standard Grange, South Edinburgh middling size Victorian/Edwardian house similar to all others on xxxx road.

  28. In the “Ipcress File”, Harry Palmer is given a Colt .32 when he joins the new section.

    That doesn’t really help, does it ?

    It could have been a rifle, they come in at 8mm (7.92), The assassin could have been a long way away…

    Occams Razor suggests a rather rubbish hit-man and some Daily Mail sib-editing.

  29. The Mail doesn’t mention Russian mafia this time…

    It’ll keep the ratings up for CrimeWatch and generate clicks on DM froth pieces.

    Both DM and the BBC seem to swerve around / omit what a thoroughly nasty piece of work he was. £20K on Roger Cook’s head, industrial scale thuggery in the UK extorting money by menace from Canary Island timeshare victims.

    A couple I know were threatened in the UK after foolishly attending one of Palmer’s timeshare “sales presentations”. – and quite severely shaken by that experience – they even called both husband and wife at work… and threats to life and limb were made.

    The Long Good Friday comes to mind.

  30. Interested – “Definitely a converted starting pistol or something like that – no one walks away from six rounds to the chest and dies a bit later if the weapon involved is a proper functioning pistol.”

    There is a matter of luck in all these things. For instance, do you recognise this man:

    During his National Service, he was commissioned into the Royal Horse Guards and served in Cyprus, where he was almost killed in a machine gun accident. Annoyed by a fault in the machine gun on his armoured car which he drove frequently, he seized the end of the barrel and shook it, accidentally triggering the mechanism so that the gun fired several bullets through his chest.[5] As a result of his injuries, he lost his spleen, one lung, several ribs, and a finger, and suffered from pain and recurring infections for the rest of his life.

    That was four bullets to the chest, one to the arm and one to the left hand. He survived. That would have been in the mid-1950s too. So the British Army was moving from the Bren to the Belgian Whatever it is called around then, but I assume it was a Bren. Either way, a considerably more powerful bullet than a pistol will fire.

    Bloke no Longer in Austria – “Occams Razor suggests a rather rubbish hit-man and some Daily Mail sib-editing.”

    But a hit man who knew how far the video cameras reached. That is interesting. An inside job? Perhaps someone ought to speak to the girlfriend? The son is how old now?

  31. Auberon Waugh, obviously.

    The parsimonious explanation is that the weapon was a suppressed .32ACP semiautomatic. .32ACP is a widely available cartridge with a wide variety of weapons using it. It’s a crap calibre, but perfectly capable of ending life if used to shoot someone in the chest multiple times. It’s subsonic in all normal loadings so lends itself well to being suppressed. Modern suppressors are very good and do not affect accuracy (which is a moot point since the assassin almost certainly killed Palmer at essentially contact range). As for the guy staggering a few yards: unless you cause large-scale CNS damage like severing the thoracic spine, that’s entirely plausible. People shot with pistol bullets fall over when their blood pressure drops sufficiently. They can be conscious and capable of returning effective fire for minutes even with mortal wounds (q.v. the 1986 Miami FBI shootout).

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