I came back to life for sons’ sake says freed ‘canoe man’ Darwin

Back-from-the-dead canoeist John Darwin has said he handed himself in to police because he wanted to be part of his sons’ lives again.

The 61-year-old fraudster faked his own death so his wife Anne could claim hundreds of thousands of pounds from insurance policies as a way to prevent them losing their property portfolio.

Darwin, who was released from jail earlier this year, gave an interview to ITV in which he was shown walking along the beach at Seaton Carew in County Durham where he disappeared in 2002.

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After lying low for a period, Darwin hid in the marital home before fleeing to Panama, where his wife also started a new life – to the surprise of their sons Mark and Anthony.

Darwin returned to the UK in 2007 and walked into a London police station claiming to be suffering from amnesia. He said: “I came back really because I have two sons and I wanted to be part of their lives again.”

The fraud was staged because he was “worth more dead than alive” and he hoped the con would relieve the couple of their financial and “emotional burden”.

He agreed he came up with the plan and its details, but said Anne – from whom he is estranged – agreed to play her part.

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He said: “Yes, she had misgivings but of course she did go along with it. I worked up the details and presented them to her. She didn’t want to go along with it at first, but as there was no other feasible way to save what we had, then she went along with it.”

Darwin said he always considered the crime as “borrowing” the money from the insurers and he intended to pay them back.

He was jailed in 2008 for six years and three months after admitting fraud. Anne was jailed for six years and six months after a trial.

Darwin apologised for the pain he had caused the victims of his crime, including the family of a dead child whose name he used for his fake identity.

He added: “Pretending you are dead is easy. Coming back to life is slightly more difficult.”