New clues to disappearance

First published in News

VITAL new clues could help catch the killer of a man who disappeared in Hampshire in 1999, police have revealed.

Detectives are trying to trace a mystery blonde woman, customers in a kebab shop queue, a blood-stained jacket and a dumped mattress as they seek to prove Kevin John Palmer was murdered.

Five years ago today the timeshare salesman touched down in Britain from Spain and was supposed to travel straight to his native north east. But Palmer - who had tickets to watch Newcastle United's home match with Manchester United the following day - ended up drinking with a group of men in a quiet Hampshire village.

Detectives believe this is where Palmer, who spoke with a Geordie accent, was murdered. Last October they swooped on the home of jailed drug smuggler John Howett in Hoe Road, Bishop's Waltham. Over nine days they carried out a painstaking search of his property that included digging up the patio in a bid to find Palmer's body.

In January 2002, Howett had been sentenced to 12 years in prison for his part in smuggling £16m of cannabis into Britain.

Palmer, 37, is known to have had a drink at the Sir Joseph Paxton pub in Hunts Pond Road, Locks Heath, before going to a disco at the Abshot Country Club, Titchfield Common, with a party of at least four people. They left at around 1am. The mystery blonde police need to trace was in a taxi that Palmer unsuccessfully tried to get into outside the country club. After getting into another taxi Palmer shouted abuse at people standing in a kebab shop queue at the junction of Middle Road and Botley Road in Park Gate.

There was an argument in the car between Palmer and two other men. The three got outside to fight but only two men returned to the taxi which carried on to Howett's house.

Police believe Palmer's body was later moved to Hoe Road on a single mattress loaded into a white van. They want to hear from anyone who may have found the possibly blood stained mattress abandoned in Hunts Pond Road, Locks Heath. Palmer's grey leather jacket may also have been left in Hunts Pond Road.

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