How did John Darwin fake his death?

PRISON officer John Darwin disappeared while canoeing in the North Sea in 2002, meaning he was pronounced dead.

Darwin, 71, and his now ex-wife Anne, 69, were convicted of fraud after it was revealed that John never went missing at all.

How did John Darwin fake his death?

Ex-teacher and prison officer, Darwin, faked his own death after he was seen paddling out to sea in a canoe off the coast of Durham in March 2002.

Later the same day, he was reported missing after failing to show up for work, resulting in a large-scale sea search.

A paddle and the canoe were found but there was no sign of Darwin.

He had instead gone ashore and hidden in a tent, letting the whole world believe he was dead – including his own two sons.


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John then returned to live in the bedsit next door to his wife, before moving back in with her.

The pair then moved to Panama, using a fake name but had to return to England when visa laws changed.

It was in 2007, five years after his disappearance, when he revealed himself to be alive, faking amnesia so the police didn't suspect him.

However, when a photo emerged of the couple in Panama in 2006, their fraudulent activity was revealed.

Why did he fake his death?

Darwin and his accomplice, Anne, decided to fake his death for a £679,000 insurance scam.

Once Darwin's death certificate was issued stating he died in March 2002, Anne was able to claim life insurance.



John and Anne Darwin's children – Mark and Anthony


When were John and Anne Darwin arrested?


Who is John Darwin's ex-wife Anne and where is she now?


Find out if The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe based on a true story

Where did John Darwin live during the years of his disappearance?

During the years Darwin was presumed dead, he took up occupancy in many places.

To begin with, he lived in a bedsit next door to his family home, before secretly moving back in with Anne 11 months later.

It is alleged someone staying in the bedsit recognised Darwin and questioned him, to which Darwin asked him not to say anything.

In 2004, the Darwins moved to Cyprus with John using a fake name for a passport.

The following year, he spent time in Cornwall, America, Gibraltar and El Puerto de Santa Maria, where it is said he bought a catamaran.

The last stop on Darwin's 'tour' was Panama in 2006, where he spent the remaining year before flying home and handing himself into the police, pleading amnesia.

How much money did John Darwin claim in insurance fraud?

Darwin claimed £679,000 in insurance fraud as well as receiving pension payouts.

He was ordered to pay £40,000 to the authorities.

In 2008, the couple were both convicted.

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Darwin was sentenced to six years and three months in prison after admitting eight deception charges.

Anne Darwin was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in jail for fraud and money-laundering.

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