Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Canoe Man's New Disappearing Act; Search for Conman Darwin Continues

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Canoe Man's New Disappearing Act; Search for Conman Darwin Continues

Article excerpt


INFAMOUS canoe fraudster John Darwin is used to keeping a low profile - and it seems he has gone to ground once again after being released from prison.

The back-from-the-dead canoeist is believed to be staying with a friend in the mining village of Easington, in County Durham, as he enjoys his first feS w days of freedom.

As speculation mounted that he might make a return to the seaside resort of Seaton Carew, near Hartlepool, where he faked his own death in 2002 so his wife Anne could cash-in on insurance and pension claims, the Gazette was sdetermined to track him down.

After searching high and low it seemed the notorious conman was determined to stay incognito.

But that did not stop tongues wagging at the seaside resort where John lived as dog walkers kept their eyes peeled along the beach.

Anne, a former doctor's receptionist, declared her husband dead following his disappearance at sea to cash-in on pounds 250,000.

Meanwhile, John lived in secret in a bedsit the couple owned next door to the family home, and used a disguise if he went out in public.

The couple then embarked on a new life in Panama with their ill-gotten gains, before becoming unstuck in 2007 when John returned to the UK, telling police he was a missing person with amnesia.

Jennifer Taylor, manager of The Staincliffe Hotel in Seaton Carew, said: "It's causing a bit of a talking point because we have a Darwin room restaurant, we have got a canoe bar which is our public bar and along the front we have got five flags, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Panama. "We are inviting him to come and see his restaurant, could you imagine if he turned up?" Howie Russon, 67, who owns The Norton Hotel, remembers seeing John paddle out towards the North Gare in his canoe on the night his plan was put into action.

Howie said: "I could tell he was experienced, he had the gear on and I thought he was all right.

"Next time I came out, 10 minutes later, he had gone so I presumed he came ashore. …

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