LAWFUEL – The man who faked his death did so due to money troubles, according to his wife. Five years ago, John Darwin disappeared from his home in Seaton Carew, near Hartlepool, and was presumed drowned after his wrecked canoe was found.
‘We had a lot of debt, in the tens of thousands,’ Anne Darwin said.
The couple did not tell their sons Mark, 31, and 29-year-old Anthony, that their father was alive. ‘I suppose he didn’t want them to turn him in,’ she explained. ‘He told me not to tell anyone he was back.’
In April 2003, a hearing took place at Hartlepool County Court. Mrs Darwin persuaded the coroner to make an application to the Home Office to have her husband declared presumed dead without waiting the normal seven-year period. But because there was no body, the insurance company would only pay half the money – £25,000.
The couple’s sons returned from the inquest, mourning their father, little dreaming he was still alive. His wife claimed he used a small bedsit next door to the family home whenever guests called to visit the grieving ‘widow’. But he spent most of the time living with his wife and sleeping in the same bed. He read books, watched television, surfed the net and did menial tasks around the house.
Mrs Darwin said: ‘He was used to being outdoors and was going stir crazy inside all the time. When he went out he would disguise himself, sometimes by taking a walking stick and walking with a limp.’