What happened to John Palmer from The Gold?
What happened to Tom Cullen's character in The Gold and was he based on a real person?
Warning: This article contains spoilers for all six episodes of The Gold.
BBC One's The Gold has gripped viewers, whether they've binge-watched the series in full on iPlayer or kept up with Sunday night's weekly episodes on the channel.
The drama, which depicts the events of the Brink’s Mat robbery, has proven to be a true crime hit. The heist saw £26 million in gold stolen from a Heathrow security depot in 1983 and came to be one of the biggest robberies in British history.
Although multiple characters have been created for the sake of the drama, many are based on real-life people who were involved in the crime – one of those being John Palmer, who is played by Tom Cullen in the drama.
Fans who have now watched the finale of The Gold will undoubtedly be left wondering what happened to John Palmer, where he is now and whether he managed to evade prison after all.
Here's everything you need to know.
What happened to John Palmer in the series?
As we neared The Gold's finale, we saw John trying to face the crimes he was accused of in a head-on manner, inviting press to his hotel resort in Tenerife and giving interviews stating his innocence.
We met him earlier on in the drama after he was brought in by Kenneth Noye and came to be instrumental in the entire heist process. He was the main person to melt down the stolen gold from the robbery and attempt to pass it off as legitimate.
In real life, Palmer ran a gold and jewellery business called Scadlynn Ltd with partners Garth Victor Chappell and Terence Edward James Patch. In 1985, after the 1983 robbery, Chappell and Patch were arrested for obtaining credit on furniture by providing false references, with Palmer managing to evade capture and fleeing to Tenerife instead.
In the series, he then comes close to being caught after a newspaper article displays his face and name in full, prompting him to undergo a press campaign.
Much of the drama's finale saw how Noye and others involved were sentenced for their involvement in the robbery, but Palmer managed to walk away relatively unscathed from the entire affair. Although Brian Boyce confronted Palmer in the final episode, stating that he knew that Palmer was involved in smelting the gold and selling it back to the market, Palmer remained firm in the fact that his name couldn't be tied to anything.
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He said that his name wasn't on any of the corresponding documents that Boyce underlined as incriminating evidence, and simply stated that his guilt couldn't be proven. We then saw how he managed to convince the jury that he didn't know where the gold had come from, and we later see him return to Spain to deal with all the money he acquired from the gold sales.
But while he may have not gone to prison in The Gold, his relationship with his wife Marnie seemed as rocky as ever, with her being uncomfortable with what he had done.
Of course, the team came to realise that their work is far from done, with £13m worth of gold unaccounted for. So, if season 2 does go ahead, it would be an ample enough starting point for our investigate team.
Was John Palmer a real person?
He most certainly was. Although other characters in the series were based on an amalgamation of multiple people, Palmer himself was real.
He was acquitted in the real-life 1987 trial after admitting that while he melted down gold bars, he wasn't aware they were stolen, just like in the series. However, Palmer was later subject to an asset-freezing Mareva Injunction, which saw him pay out £360,000 to insurers, Lloyd's, as a result of a civil action suit following the robbery – but he continued to proclaim his innocence.
Even so, he became known as 'Goldfinger' for his connection to the infamous heist.
Later on in life, in 2001, Palmer was convicted in one of the longest fraud trials in British legal history and was sentenced to eight years in prison, with reports stating that he managed to defraud a staggering total of 20,000 people out of £30m. He ended up serving just over half of the prison time and at the time of his conviction, his fortune was estimated to be £300m.
Palmer was then declared bankrupt in 2005 with debts totalling to £3.9m. In 2007, he was arrested on more fraud charges following reports that he had continued engaging in criminal activities following his imprisonment in 2001. He spent two years on remand before being released on bail.
Palmer died in 2015 after being shot multiple times at the age of 64 in his gated home in Essex. After his murder, it was found that he was under electronic surveillance as part of a secret police intelligence operation, and was also facing charges in Spain for firearm possession, fraud and money laundering.
While police said Palmer's shooting had "all the hallmarks of a professional hit", there have been no arrests made for his murder and it remains unsolved.
All episodes of The Gold are available to stream on BBC iPlayer now. The Gold: The Real Story Behind Brink’s-Mat: Britain’s Biggest Heist by Neil Forsyth and Thomas Turner is available to buy now.
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