John 'Goldfinger' Palmer murder: Essex Police officers disciplined

John 'Goldfinger' Palmer Image copyright PA
Image caption John "Goldfinger" Palmer was found dead at his home near Brentwood on 24 June 2015

Two police officers who were first on the scene when a notorious criminal was killed have been disciplined for failing to spot he had been shot.

John "Goldfinger" Palmer, a 65-year-old conman, was found at his home in South Weald, Essex, in June.

Officers and paramedics initially thought Palmer, who had recently undergone keyhole surgery to his chest, had died from natural causes.

Essex Police said their actions did not amount to gross misconduct.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Palmer was found dead at his home in Sandpit Lane in South Weald near Brentwood in south Essex

Palmer, who had served a jail sentence in the UK for a time-share fraud, had been due to stand trial in Spain for other offences.

British investigators believe he had been the subject of a contract killing.

'Raised suspicions'

Essex Police said the two officers who arrived at Palmer's home had been told about his recent surgery and that it could account for his injuries.

A force spokesman said: "However they did not carry out a full examination of the body, which would likely have raised suspicions.

"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... it was judged 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."

Live: More on the professional hit murder of John "Goldfinger" Palmer

It was not until a week later that a post-mortem examination established suspicious circumstances and a murder investigation was launched.

Det Ch Insp Stephen Jennings said it was impossible to know to what extent the delay had set back the investigation, adding that the professional nature of the killing meant few clues had been left in any event.

He said: "I can't deny that, in an ideal world, we would inspect any crime scene in as timely manner as possible."

BBC Crimewatch features an appeal for information about John Palmer's murder on BBC1 on Thursday 10 March at 21:00 GMT and available on the BBC iPlayer after broadcast.

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