Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Canoe Fraud Wife Forced to Return Pounds 500k; Flat and Land in Panama among Assets

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Canoe Fraud Wife Forced to Return Pounds 500k; Flat and Land in Panama among Assets

Article excerpt

Byline: Coreena Ford

MORE than pounds 500,000 has been recovered from the wife of back-from-thedead canoeist John Darwin, it has emerged.

John Darwin, from Seaton Carew, Teesside, drew worldwide publicity when he walked into a police station claiming to suffer from amnesia.

In reality, Mr Darwin, 61, had faked his own death so his wife Anne, 60, could claim thousands of pounds from insurance policies and pension schemes. Anne Darwin claimed on his life insurance while he lived in secret compartments in their Teesside home and the pair ended up in South America.

But their scam was exposed when a photo of the couple was found online.

Now prosecutors have clawed back more than half a million pounds in assets from Anne, who is longer with the trickster.

Kingsley Hyland, head of the CPS's North East complex casework unit, said: "It is important that fraudsters see that not only will we prosecute them wherever possible, but we will also make every effort to retrieve their ill-gotten gains to return them to those they have defrauded." The crooked couple embarked on a new life in Panama after Mr Darwin faked his death in March 2002 by apparently vanishing off the coast in a supposed canoeing accident.

He turned up at a police station in November 2007, claiming he was a missing person with amnesia, but the ruse fell to pieces when a photo taken in Panama of the couple turned up on the internet.

During the trial at Teesside Crown Court in 2008 the jury heard they tricked police, a coroner, financial institutions and even sons Mark and Anthony into believing the ex-prison officer was dead.

Mr Darwin obtained a passport in the name of a dead Sunderland baby and lived secretly with his wife while they plotted their new life abroad. He then travelled to Panama where they bought a flat and planned to set up an ecology tourism business together. …

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