THE partner of a man who police believe was targeted by a professional assassin is facing a fraud trial in Spain next month.

It is hoped the proceedings could shine a light on the murder of John Palmer - nicknamed Goldfinger on account of his unproven involvement in the 983 Brink’s-Mat raid.

Mr Palmer was shot dead while in his garden, in South Weald, near Brentwood, in 2015.

Halstead Gazette:

Guard - police at the scene of Mr Palmer's South Weald home in 2015

His partner Christina Ketley, 58, is due to appear alongside Mr Palmer’s business pal Richard Cashman, 52, and eight others.

They are accused of selling non-existent time-shares on Palmer’s orders while he served an eight-year jail term for fraud.

According to reports in The Sun, police are examining whether anyone would have benefited from his removal from the timeshare case.

Ms Ketley and Cashman have been summoned to a Madrid court on January 21.

It is understood the pair are set to deny the allegations.

In June this year, Ms Ketley offered a £100,000 reward - with her partner’s brother Malcolm - for information leading to the prosecution of those responsible for Mr Palmer’s murder.

DCI Stephen Jennings, who is leading the Essex Police murder inquiry, has stated one of the “key hypotheses” for Palmer’s killing is the Madrid case.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “The forthcoming trial in Madrid is a matter for the Spanish authorities.

Halstead Gazette:

Search - police officers block the entrance to Mr Palmer's South Weald home after his murder in 2015

“Given our on-going investigation into the murder of John Palmer, our investigative team are fully aware of the impending proceedings.”

Prosecutors have called for Ms Ketley and Cashman to be jailed for two years for criminal association, six years for fraud and another two years and a two million Euro fine for money laundering.

Speaking to The Sun, a source said Cashman had “been like a son” to Mr Palmer.

Cashman was shot in the late 1990s in an incident believed to have been connected to a timeshare turf war in Tenerife between Palmer’s British syndicate and an alliance of Eastern European and Lebanese business ventures.

Announcing the six-figure reward for information in the summer Ms Ketley said: “It haunts us every day to think that whoever was responsible was clearly watching John, stalking him like an animal before so brutally and callously ending his life.

“Losing a loved one is hard enough but in this case we have the added stress of not only not knowing who did it, but why.”

DCI Jennings said: “We believe it was very much a contract style killing.

The search is not just for the gunman, but the person who wanted Mr Palmer dead.”

Essex Police bosses have previously admitted failings in the handling of Mr Palmer’s murder after officers mistook six gunshot injuries for surgery wounds.

At an inquest into Mr Palmer’s death, DCI Jennings said officers did not properly inspect Mr Palmer’s dead body as it lay in the garden of his home, nor did they conduct appropriate background checks which would have revealed his high-profile criminal background.

As a result, Mr Palmer’s death was not treated as suspicious until six days after he died.