The Thief, His Wife, and the Canoe: Where Are John and Anne Darwin Now?

On March 21, 2002, Hartlepool Prison Officer John Darwin went out in his canoe. When he missed his shift at work and didn’t return home, an alarm was sounded and a major search ensued. He was missing, presumed dead. Little did the police know that John, with the help of his wife Anne, had actually faked his own death so they could collect the life insurance money.

The couple lied to their two sons and the world. After a failed attempt to start a new life with Anne under a false name in Panama in 2007, John showed up at a police station in London and claimed he had amnesia. The story blew up and John soon became known as “Canoe Man,” but the couple was caught when a member of the public found a photo online of the couple in Panama taken in 2006. They were both convicted of fraud and sentenced to more than six years in prison.

Now, ten years after John’s initial ‘disappearance’, ITV is dramatizing the story in a new four-part seriesThe thief, his wife and the canoewith Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan playing the couple at the center of the scandal.

The ITV series ends with Anne leaving prison and going to a transitional home in Leeds – but where are the Darwins now?

Anne separated from John shortly before her release from prison. “I didn’t realize how much John was manipulating me until I was in prison. I had to see a psychologist to finally help me see things in a different light,” she said The guard in 2016.

“Until then, I always had his voice in my head. When it finally faded I was then able to make decisions for myself and realized I didn’t have to rely on him. I could manage on my own.”

When Anne was released in 2011, John reportedly sent her a photo of himself with a copyright symbol on it to indicate that she was his property. They eventually divorced, with John citing “unreasonable behavior.”

John Darwin and his second wife Mercy

(Jamie Wiseman/ANL/Shutterstock)

Soon after, Anne decided to tell her story. In 2016 she published a paper, From my depth The book’s blurb reads, “After years of silence, Anne Darwin finally reveals the truth behind the crime that tore her family apart.”

Anne also got a job with the RSPCA, using her prison qualifications. Proceeds from her book went to the RNLI and the RSPCA.


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She is now retired and lives alone in the north of England. She has reconciled with her two previously disowned sons, Mark and Anthony, and is a part of her grandchildren’s lives.

John, meanwhile, remarried in 2015. He moved to Manila, Philippines, where he helps his second wife, Mercy, run a market stall. She is 23 years younger than him.

The thief, his wife and the canoe begins Sunday April 17 at 9pm on ITV.

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/thief-wife-canoe-john-anne-darwin-b2059661.html The Thief, His Wife, and the Canoe: Where Are John and Anne Darwin Now?


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