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'Back from the dead' canoeist tells police: 'It's all coming back to me now'


Last updated at 15:32pm on 7th December 2007 commentIconSm.gif Comments (24)

John Darwin faced a court today as police revealed he is finally beginning to remember the last five years of his life.

He was photographed after a hearing at Hartlepool magistrates' court where Cleveland police were granted a further 36 hours to detain and question him.

Detective Inspector Andy Greenwood said after the brief hearing: "John Darwin is presently being interviewed. He is putting forward some sort of account." He said Mr Darwin was "calm and relaxed" in court.

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darwincourtR_468x612.jpgJohn Darwin arriving at court this morning where police won the right to keep him for a further 36 hours for questioning


Meanwhile, as Cleveland detectives questioned 57-year-old Mr Darwin, his tearful wife said: "I should never have listened to John, but he can be very persuasive."

But she admitted: "Of course, I'm to blame too. I know I have done wrong. I just wish I had told the boys when I found out. I'm sure they would have talked some sense into me.


Mr Greenwood said he could not give any further details about what Mr Darwin had told him because it was "a complicated and protracted inquiry".


He said he was "keen" to question Mr Darwin's wife, Anne, adding: "If Mrs Darwin wants to come and speak to me, I will speak to her."

Mrs Darwin, 55, is flying back to Britain to face arrest on suspicion of fraud over her husband's faked death.


John Darwin, 57, remained at Kirkleatham Police Station, near Redcar, Cleveland, where he was being questioned on suspicion of fraud. He appeared in court today as magistrates ruled police could hold him for questioning for a further 36 hours.


He disappeared in March 2002, and was officially declared dead, but walked into a London police station on Saturday and declared: "I think I'm a missing person."


He said he had no recollection of anything after June 2000, but a photograph found on the internet apparently showed him in Panama City with his wife Anne, who emigrated there six weeks ago after selling the family's seven-bedroom home, and seemed to be taken last year.


A police source said today: "Is he remembering anything yet? Clearly, when he sees the photograph of himself off the internet, he is going to have to come up with something. "But the short answer is 'No'."

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009markdarwin_468x621.jpgMark Darwin with Felicia Witts at a summer ball last year



Meanwhile, one of John and Anne Darwin's sons has done a "moonlight flit" from his home.



Flatmates revealed that Mark Darwin, 32, had returned to his house in the middle of the night to collect his belongings - leaving behind only a "suspicious" notebook of instructions for his girlfriend and directions to London City Airport.


The notes includes weird "codes", as well as a poem and references to Panama.


In a bizarre coincidence, Mark and his 29-year- old brother Anthony have recently given up their jobs.



Mark, who lives with three flatmates in Finchley, North London, left his job as a software developer for an international property consultancy on November 30, just before his 57-year- old "missing canoeist" father turned up at a London police station last weekend.



Anthony left his job as an insurance broker in August.


Their father John Darwin is due to appear before Hartlepool Magistrates' Court, where police will apply to extend his custody time limit.

Sources have suggested that under questioning he is "partially" regaining his memory although he still cannot explain how he "came back from the dead".

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009AnthonyDarwin_228x483.jpgAngry: Anthony Darwin leaves home yesterday


Mark's flatmates told how they had not seen him since Sunday, but discovered early yesterday morning that he had emptied his room overnight without telling them if he was ever coming back or whether they could expect further rent payments.



He had removed most of his possessions but left a book of 'strange' notes addressed to his girlfriend Felicia Witts, 30.




The flatmates called Cleveland Police and were told officers wanted to come and collect the notebook.


However, detectives questioning John Darwin yesterday insisted they wanted to speak to his two sons as witnesses, not as suspects.


One of Mark's flatmates, who did not wish to be named, said: "He's come back here and taken all his stuff when we were all sleeping. We didn't hear anything. He has taken his laptop. There's a notebook which said "Instructions for Felicia".




"It's got some strange stuff in it including a poem. It has got codes in it and says stuff about going to phone boxes and not telling people your name.


"They are really strange notes, a bit obsessive compulsive, like things written over and over.


"It might all be perfectly innocent but the notebook is very suspicious and the fact that he's left without telling us. I think there were references to Panama in it.


"I'm a bit freaked out by it all."

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darwinDM0412_468x430.jpgMystery man: John Darwin leaves his son's house with police officers


He added: "When we spoke to him on the phone earlier in the week, he said, "Don't tell the police I live there, say I've moved out".


"We've heard about him helping his mum move to Panama because he was looking after the dogs, but that's all we really know."



The notebook contained a poem that appeared to have been written by Mark during the night.


Another flatmate, in her 20s, said: "It was weird. It was like he wrote it last night, when he was in the house, about being in the house at night.


"It was something about creeping around, saying there were three faces but there was one missing."



The flatmates said he also left behind documents relating to a new job he was to start this week, as well as car insurance documents and others relating to the sale of a property.


Mark had been living in the shared house for a month after answering an advert.


His girlfriend, who stayed in the flat on a regular basis but did not pay rent, could not be traced yesterday.

Her parents Ian and Gillian, who live in Basingstoke, refused to comment.


The pair are said to have been dating for around a year, but have known each other for a long time.


The mystery deepened yesterday evening after Mark reappeared at his younger brother Anthony's home in Basingstoke and the two men were escorted by police to pick up bags of belongings.



Two officers waited while the sons went into the house then followed them again as they drove away.


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darwinDM0512_468x848.jpgDeceit: A happy Anne Darwin earlier this week before she admitted she had known her husband was alive


John Darwin arrived back in Teesside in the back of an unmarked police car late on Wednesday night, shielding his face with travel brochures.


After undergoing a medical assessment yesterday morning, detectives began the process of interviewing him over his "missing" five years.


There have so far been no indications that Mr Darwin has deviated from his insistence that he remembers-nothing that has happened since 2000, despite the scepticism of experts about amnesia occurring in that form.


Mr Darwin is being held at Kirkleatham police station near Middlesbrough.


Police issued a statement last night saying they were aware of rumours that Mrs Darwin was due back in England yesterday but had no reliable information about whether this was the case.


Although he was arrested on suspicion of fraud, Mr Darwin could potentially face charges of wasting police time over the extensive search for him when he disappeared five years ago.

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Canoe widow's FULL confession: We DID fake death to clear our debts - and he just hid next door


By NATALIE CLARKE and DAVID LEIGH in Miami - More by this author » Last updated at 01:08am on 8th December 2007 commentIconSm.gif Comments

001annedarwin_228x342.jpgAnne Darwin: 'The lies just snowballed'


The breathtaking deceit of "back from the dead" canoeist John Darwin and his wife Anne can be revealed today.



For much of his missing five years, she says he was simply living at their home in Hartlepool ... and sharing her bed.



The 57-year-old ex-prison officer even brazenly walked along the beach near their home - his only disguise a woolly hat, a walking stick and fake limp. Yet his wife insists that their two sons were kept completely in the dark and spent five years grieving for their father.


In an astonishing interview, 55-year-old Mrs Darwin admits the couple were secretly living as husband and wife when an inquest declared him dead.


The former doctor's receptionist also knew her husband was alive and well when she cashed in a life insurance policy for £25,000 and had their £130,000 mortgage paid off by another life policy.


She said her husband plotted his disappearing act because of increasingly crippling financial debts but claims she was unaware he was actually going to carry it out - and genuinely believed he was dead after his canoe was found washed up in the North Sea.


Mrs Darwin was speaking in Miami on her way home from Panama and expects to be arrested on suspicion of fraud when she arrives back in Britain.


Cleveland police said her husband was "putting forward some sort of account" during questioning yesterday, and Mrs Darwin's claim that she was not in on his "Reggie Perrin"-style disappearance will be treated with extreme scepticism by detectives who were given 36 more hours to interview him.



Her incredible account raises questions which can be determined only by police and Mrs Darwin, who has not been paid by the Daily Mail for this interview, conceded: "Yes, I know it seems too incredible to be true, but it is."





Among other astounding revelations, she said her husband:


• HID in a bedsit in the adjoining house when family and friends visited the "widow"

• WAS literally next door when his grieving sons Mark and Anthony returned from his inquest

• INSISTED Mrs Darwin put the telephone on to loudspeaker when their sons rang so he could hear their voices

• BETRAYED her by flying to America to meet a woman after an internet flirtation;

• FINALLY returned to Britain and walked into a police station because he wanted to see his sons






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003housetabbed_468x520.jpgScene of the deception: The two properties in Seaton Carew where her husband lived with Mrs Darwin's husband lived after faking his death






Mrs Darwin admits there is a real chance she will go to jail - some offences with which the couple could be charged carry a life sentence.


"I am aware that could happen and I am absolutely terrified at the prospect," she said. "I feel I have been living a kind of prison sentence for the last five years, but that's been my own private sentence and the public one will now follow."



After almost a week of lies, half truths and prevarications, Anne Darwin says she has decided to come clean and has given the Mail a noholdsbarred account of what she says has been going on these past five years.


"I suppose it became a way of life," she said. "It was very difficult, though, and I was always terrified that we would be found out. I was always on eggshells when friends and family came to stay in case someone wandered into John's room and saw him."






According to Mrs Darwin, her husband began to plan his sensational disappearing act in the beginning of 2002. The couple were tens of thousands of pounds in debt, largely brought on, she says, by problems with the bedsit rental business they ran.



She says Darwin, a former teacher who had joined the prison service, also had "lots of credit cards", indicating that he was more free- spending than she would have liked.



"We were struggling to make payments and there were late payment fees and bank charges that absolutely crippled us," said Mrs Darwin, who was working then part-time in a doctor's surgery and also had a part-time admin job in the health service.

Scroll down for more ... 005darwinsDM_468x574.jpgCaught red-handed: The photograph taken in Panama last year which proved the couple had been lying




"At that time we had about 12 houses scattered around County Durham, they were rental investments but people were slow in paying us and when we moved to Seaton Carew in December 2000 it just became too much trying to look after all the properties and both of us trying to keep full-time jobs going as well.




"I had another part-time job. We tried desperately to keep our head above water but it got increasingly difficult."




Darwin believed the only way out of the mess was for him to "die" and for his wife to cash in on the life insurance.


"John said there was only one way out of the situation, and that was to fake his death. I pleaded with him not to do it, I said it was a wrong thing to do. I honestly didn't know what he'd planned or for when."



Darwin decided on a tragedy at sea scenario. On March 21 2002, he took his red canoe out on to the sea in front of the family home and disappeared.



The sea that day was described as "like a millpond", which prompted bafflement that he could have got into difficulties. The empty canoe was found weeks later.



Although she had known his thoughts, his wife claims she genuinely believed he had died. "I suppose I didn't want to believe that he might have actually done it," she says. "I genuinely thought he had had an accident."







002johndarwin_468x587.jpgUnder arrest: Police are still questioning Mr Darwin over his missing five years



Just under a year later, in February 2003, there was a knock on her door. It was Darwin. "He was an absolute mess, he was so dishevelled. I didn't even recognise him at first. It was such a shock.


"He had a beard, he was dirty, he was so thin, he looked like he'd been living rough. He smelt dreadful. When I asked him where he'd been he said it didn't matter, he was home now. He said he'd done it basically so that we didn't lose everything, which is rather ironic now.

"He had a bath, I fed him and he put some clean clothes on. I hadn't been able to part with his clothes.



"I had really thought he was dead, especially when they found the canoe and because of the state it was in.


"Now there he was, standing in front of me. Although I was pleased he was still alive, I think deep down a part of me was always angry. To think of what he put us all through. He had basically come back expecting me to forgive him."


Darwin, it turned out, was hoping that by now the insurance policy would have paid out and he and Anne would live happily ever after, albeit in a low-key, invisible kind of way.


But she says he was upset. "He broke down and cried and said he was sorry for all the upset he'd caused.


"I wanted at that point to report everything he'd done but he threatened to say I'd been involved from the beginning. So I was trapped."




Over the next few days, there were arguments and recriminations, but the upshot was that Mrs Darwin agreed to keep her mouth shut and became complicit in the scam.


Most unfathomably of all, she agreed not to tell her two sons that their father had returned from the dead. Why? She says she did it out of love for her husband.



"My biggest mistake has been trying to protect him. It was so hard not to tell the boys. But John was adamant I mustn't tell them."




Why did he not want them to know? "Well, I suppose he didn't want them to turn him in.

"He told me just to go along with the story and not to tell anyone he was back. It was just so hard not to tell the boys but he was adamant I mustn't tell them."






001darwins_468x376.jpgDeceit: The Darwins' sons Anthony and Mark apparently remained oblivious that their father was alive



For the first three months after he turned up, Darwin used to "come and go" before moving back in for good.


"I always knew if he had been because I would find food missing, and if I had left any money around, he would take that too.


"John had his own key which he used to get in and out. I do not know where else he was living at that time, he never told me. I don't know if he had any transport of his own. As far as I know he didn't as he would always arrive on foot.


"Often when he was with me it was very difficult.


"Yes, we had arguments, but despite everything I still loved him.


"He lived at the house with me for three years. We lived as man and wife.


"There were a few hairy moments and I lived in fear of being found out. Most of the time I used to be frightened to even open the door.



Right away Darwin told his wife he was eager for an inquest into his demise to take place so that she could claim the life insurance. Two months later, in April 2003, a hearing was held at Hartlepool County Court.


"After John's disappearance, I had been pushing for an inquest - long before he turned up again - because I couldn't cope with it any longer and I needed to be able to get on with my life. "


Egged on by Darwin, she managed to have him declared presumed dead after persuading the coroner to make an application to the Home Office to do so without waiting the usual seven years.



"John said if we got the money from the insurance payouts and cleared our debt, we could find a way back then we could start over again. Initially I said I couldn't go through with it.


"He didn't take out life insurance policies with a view to then disappearing. We had to take out life insurance when we moved house in 2000.


"When they did finally pay out, because there was no body, the life insurance people would only pay half of it, £25,000.


"We also had a mortgage of £130,000 and that was paid off. Not having a mortgage made the burden more tolerable."



Mrs Darwin was working, and now she had a widow's pension.








It was official - John Darwin was no longer of this world.


But on the day he was declared dead he was, his wife says, tucked away in his little bedsit within the family home.


"On the day of the inquest, John stayed at home but I didn't actually see him that day because Mark and Anthony were staying with me in the main house. He used one of the bedsits."




The Darwins owned two large adjacent houses; one the seven-bedroom family home and the other divided into 15 bedsits. The passage between the master bedroom and Darwin's bedsit was a 5ft high, 18in wide coffin-shaped hole hiden by a wardrobe with a false back and locked with a coat peg.

It was crudely boarded up with breezeblocks before the next-door house was sold.


It would have been perfectly possible for Darwin's sons to have unlocked the door and seen their father.



Once her husband had moved back in, they settled into a routine. Mr Darwin spent most of the time indoors, reading books, surfing the internet, watching daytime television and doing odd jobs about the house.



"He was used to being outdoors and he was going stir crazy trapped inside all the time. When he went out he would disguise himself sometimes by taking a walking stick and walking with a limp.


"When it was cold, he would put on a woolly hat and pull his collar upwards.


"But during the summer months he could barely get out.


"Seaton Carew was very busy at that time of the year and there were always lots of people about.


"I often had family or friends staying with me, which meant I was always walking on eggshells in case someone should catch a glimpse of John."

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I saw this on a 'behind the scenes' news program...


I wonder why she didn't want anyone to know he was alive (it probably says why in the thread but, come on, I'm not reading that!)


Is that show like BTN?? I loved that show in primary school!!! :D:lol:


I saw this on the news yesterday. It all seemed very sus.

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Is that show like BTN?? I loved that show in primary school!!! :D:lol:


I saw this on the news yesterday. It all seemed very sus.


No, it was Today, tonight. Australia's own program were people bitching about each other is proadcast on TV!:P


You could sue them for misleading trade description......................... :rolleyes:


Yeah, I'll do a Peter Vanwood (sue someone who you don't know anything about for a hardly plausable reason)!!


:sneaky:< Hehe! I feel very evil today!

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No, it was Today, tonight. Australia's own program were people bitching about each other is proadcast on TV!:P




Yeah, I'll do a Peter Vanwood (sue someone who you don't know anything about for a hardly plausable reason)!!


:sneaky:< Hehe! I feel very evil today!



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Welcome to Seaton Canoe: Local joker puts up sign making fun of canoeist case


By NIALL FIRTH - More by this author » Last updated at 11:53am on 13th December 2007 Before 'back-from-the-dead' canoeist John Darwin put it on the map with his bungled disappearing act, few people would have heard of Seaton Carew.

Best known until now for the bracing winds on its empty but spectacular beach and for being within easy reach of Hartlepool nuclear power station, the town has now become synonymous with the Darwins' case.

Overnight a sign has appeared which shows that at least one local joker has embraced the town's new-found fame by honouring the seaside resort's most famous canoeist.

The sign reads: "Welcome to Seaton Canoe - twinned with Panama."

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TwinedWithES_468x344.jpgAn unknown local makes a joke at the Darwins' expense


The yellow sign with black lettering was spotted alongside a main road into town but it has since vanished.

Seaton Carew's twin is really Huckelhoven, near Cologne in Germany.

Hartlepool council spokesman Alistair Rae told the Mirror: "Seaton Carew is part of Hartlepool and we have links with Huckelhoven going back 30 years.

"We have no plans to twin with Panama City just yet."

As the Darwins' story continues to unravel it has been alleged that John Darwin had made plans to start a new life as a cowboy in America.

The Sun claims that during the years he was missing Darwin bought a 20-acre plot in south-east Kansas after meeting an Kansas housewife named Kelly on the internet.

According to one of Kelly's friends quoted in the paper Darwin wanted to start a new 'Wild West' life of raising cattle and riding horses.

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