The incredible story of John Darwin, the ‘Canoe Man’ who pretended to die.
John Darwin, a former police officer, walked into a London police station in December 2007 looking ‘tanned and relaxed,’ five years after he allegedly drowned in a canoeing accident.
On December 1, 2007, the bizarre case of John Darwin, dubbed “Canoe Man,” began to unravel.
The former prison officer walked into the West End Central police station in London, claiming to have amnesia.
Although he claimed he had no recollection of the previous five years, suspicions had been raised long before Darwin’s “return from the dead.”
Despite owning a number of rental properties, Darwin and his wife Anne were in debt, and by December 2000, they were discussing faking Darwin’s death in order to collect on a £250,000 life insurance policy and pay off their £130,000 mortgage.
On the morning of March 21, 2002, Darwin was seen departing in his canoe from Seaton Carew, a seaside resort in County Durham.
A massive air and sea search took place, with five RNLI lifeboats, an RAF helicopter, two coastguard rescue teams, and a police plane equipped with thermal cameras scouring the coastline near where Darwin was last seen.
Darwin’s wrecked kayak was eventually discovered near the mouth of the River Tees a few months later.
Darwin’s wife claimed his £25,000 life insurance policy, his £25,000 teacher’s pension, his £58,000 prison service pension, £4,000 in Department of Work and Pensions payouts, and a £137,000 Norwich Union mortgage insurance policy after he was declared dead.
“All I want to do is bury his body,” the “grieving widow” told TeesideLive at the time.
I’d be able to progress as a result of it.
It’s difficult to grieve without bringing things to an end, but I’m in limbo right now.”
Darwin, on the other hand, had returned home in secret, assuming the identity of a dead man of similar age named John Jones.
He spent his days at his neighbor’s house, which he owned.
It was divided into 15 bedsits, and Darwin had built a secret passageway from one of the flats to his “widow’s” bedroom.
For four years, Anne Darwin portrayed a grieving widow.
Even the Darwins’ two sons were convinced that their father was no longer alive.
One of the Darwins’ tenants accidentally bumped into John and inquired, “Aren’t you supposed to be dead?”
“Don’t tell anyone about this,” John warned him, and luckily, he didn’t.
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