Your LIFE: I Faked My Own Death; the Country Was Gripped by the Story of John and Anne Darwin, and His Canoe "Death". Here, Father-Ofthree Jim Petrie Tells How He Was Driven to Create a Web of Deceit. BEST FOR REAL LIFE EXCLUSIVE

Article excerpt


WITH pity in his eyes, Juliet Petrie's doctor told her how sorry she was to hear about the untimely death of her husband Jim.

Shocked, Juliet said: "Jim's not dead... he's at home doing the washing up!"

At the time, Juliet thought it was a simple mistake by the doctor and even joked with Jim when she returned home that he looked "pretty good for a corpse".

But it was far from a joke... She soon discovered Jim had created a life of lies - and had even faked his own death. His dishonesty had spiralled until there was no way out and, in December 2006, the couple were in bed at 4am when police arrived to arrest Jim.

Juliet, now 43, recalls: "It was terrifying. All I knew was that I could hear Jim in the next room yelling 'It was my fault - my wife had nothing to do with it!' Jim admitted everything."

And there was a lot to admit... Jim 41, had been devastated when his first wife, Sarah, died from a deep vein thrombosis in August 2003. Just two-and-a-half months later, their 11-month-old son Ben died of sudden infant death syndrome.

Jim, from Orpington, Kent, says: "I had just been trying to carry on, for my children's sake. But when the baby died, too, the grief was overwhelming.

"I needed something to blot out my pain and alcohol became my prop. I started drinking heavily. So much that soon normal booze wasn't strong enough."

By the time he met Juliet, in September 2004, Jim was a secret alcoholic and was topping up his cans of lager with pure alcohol in the form of antifreeze - which can be lethal.

Jim says: "Juliet was everything I hoped for in a woman - attractive, bubbly and fantastic with my children. I had another chance of happiness at last."

But it didn't stop him drinking. He adds: "I knew it was foolish and dangerous, and if anyone found out I might lose my children. But it became an addiction on I couldn't beat."

And Juliet had no idea just how much Jim was drinking. She says: "I realised he liked a drink but it never made him nasty... he just got a bit daft.

"But once we moved in together I realised was he drinking too much. I worried for his health so I rationed him to four cans an evening, which he accepted." But she adds wryly: "I never knew about the anti-freeze."

Still thinking everything was fine, Juliet married Jim next year but his drinking got worse and he failed a random test at work and lost his job as a train driver.

He soon found himself unable to pay his bills. Jim adds: "The first time I couldn't make the monthly mortgage was devastating. Providing for my kids had always been my main role in life. I was letting everyone down.

"But instead of dealing with it, I pushed it to the back of my mind. The alcohol would blot out all my cares."

Then, in January 2006, Juliet spent her savings of pounds 4,800 to send Jim on a construction trades course. But he realised it wasn't right for him and asked for the money to be refunded. But the college refused.

Desperate, Jim made a decision that would shatter his family life. He says: "I took a copy of my first wife's death certificate and doctored it so it looked as if I was the one who had died. …