FROM BANGERS TO BULLION
JOHN PALMER WENT FROM SELLING SECOND- HAND CARS TO SMELTING GOLD STOLEN DURING BRITAIN’S BIGGEST RAID, BUT HIS BIG EARNER WAS TIMESHARE
“Palmer started with nothing and rose to the top by living on his wits,” wrote Tom Morgan, Marnie Palmer’s collaborator on her book, Goldfinger And Me. He was one of seven siblings who grew up hungry in their freezing home in the West Midlands. He started working for his brothers doing roofing and working on markets, before moving to Bristol, where he set up a number of companies, selling second- hand cars, carpets, antiques, bric- a- brac and eventually gold.
“Silver- tongued and cunning, he was a natural entrepreneur,” wrote Morgan. He was well on his way to being a millionaire by the age of 25. But it was his brainwave of smelting down gold that led to the cash coming quickly. “The smelter was an instant money- making machine,” wrote Marnie Palmer. After Brink’s Mat, fence Kenneth Noye contacted Palmer about smelting the stolen bullion. “Noye started off by sending a few ingots,” wrote Marnie “Soon it was coming down the M4 thick and fast.”
One of the gangsters was said to be carrying briefcases full of bullion on the train from London to Bristol for John Palmer to smelt. 70 per cent of the Brink’s Mat haul has still never been traced.