One of the nation’s most bizarre true stories has been played out on ITV this week. The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe has told the true story of how former prison officer John Darwin faked his own death back in 2002.
John faked his own death in a canoe accident after he was seen paddling off the coast of Durham. He was on the verge of bankruptcy with crippling debts of £700,000 and as a result decided to fake his own death with the help of his wife Anne.
He instructed Anne to claim £250,000 from his life insurance after the accident. After the accident John lived in secret in a bedsit that adjoined the couple’s home near Hartlepool visiting his wife through a secret door that connected the houses.
Five years after the accident Anne and husband John decided to leave the UK for a new life in Panama. However the pair did not realise that you are not able to work or live in Panama without your identity confirmed by British authorities.
As a result John decided to turn up at a Police station in London hoping he could go on to live a normal life. However the Police were already suspicious as a result of Anne’s trip to Panama and the pair were rumbled after a picture emerged on the internet of the couple in an estate agents in Panama.
The married couple were later found guilty of fraud. They were both given a six-year jail sentence.
A new documentary telling the story of what happened – The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe: The Real Story – will air on ITV at 9pm on Thursday night.
What happened to Anne Darwin?
In 2011 Anne was released from prison shortly after husband John. During her time in prison Anne decided that she wanted to leave her husband and the pair were later divorced.
Once she left prison Anne found a job working at the RSPCA in York whilst she lived in a nearby local village. Shortly after Anne wrote a book with all the details about what happened called Out of My Depth with all of the proceeds going to the RSPCA.
Anne’s book was released back in 2016 and in that she spoke about her regrets in terms of her actions. The main thing being that she lied to her two sons for such a long period of time.
It was reported earlier this year by the Daily Mail that Anne is now living in a village not far from Middlesbrough. The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe: The Real Story is on tonight at 9pm on ITV One and the ITV hub.