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The Conman Who Rose From The Dead | Fakes, Frauds & Scammers

it’s not every day you get somebody coming back from the dead it was one of the most audacious frauds anyone’s ever heard of there was never a funeral because there was never a body there has to be more to it no just pushed it out to sleep I thought it would relieve myself of the financial burden the coroner declared him missing presumed dead that was when the money started coming and you know checks were dropping through the letterbox he knew the only way to actually be able to live his life as a free man again would be to go overseas the Darwin’s lived a bizarre double life his wife Anne was in on the deception she was smiling next to her husband who she claimed was dead I just smiled for the photograph bingo The Game’s up they both face multiple charges of fraud he was vain he was full of himself and he thought he was clever than everybody else I worked out the detailers and then presented them to her of course she didn’t want to go along with it at first the world revolves around John Darwin a real narcissist there’s this crazy story about this man who’s come back from the dead my name is David Lee I’m a British journalist I covered the case of the infamous canoe man John Darwin who faked his death there was a mad scramble to get the truth behind the story and I was the one who got to her first to those who knew them the darwins were a well-healed couple who lived in this imposing property in Seaton Carew you know the very blustery Northeast of England [Music] it’s a small town and people seem to know each other it is a very close-knit Community they owned a dozen other buy to let properties including the house next door which they rented out as bedsits John Darwin was Anne’s first boyfriend he was very persistent he kept asking her out and eventually they got married and they had two sons without doubt this is an unusual case however there will be people out there who will know exactly where he has been where he has been living on what he has been doing my name is Tony Hutchinson and I let the investigation once John Darwin magically reappeared it was a huge case as far as the media was concerned it attracted Global media interest I was getting telephone calls and emails from people on you in Australia America everybody was talking about it all that anybody was talking about was the guy who’d gone off in his Red Canoe and disappeared at Sea despite a huge air in Sea search off the North Yorkshire Coast his body was never found but both family and police were puzzled that was a huge air and sea rescue operation that went on for like probably about a day and a half once there was an inquest and the coroner declared him missing presumed dead that was when the money started coming and checks were dropping through the letterbox and then it jumps forward to five years when he walked into London Police Station I got a phone call on the Sunday morning just to see it reappeared and he was suffering from Amnesia but not for one minute did I believe the Amnesia story police are now trying to trace Mr Darwin’s wife Anne who’s left the seaside flat they once shared and is thought to be living abroad my appeal today would be for anybody who has any information whereby we can piece together what has happened over these last five years the British tabloids have always been massively competitive everybody wanted the story you know in those days it was just go and get the story it doesn’t matter what it costs and don’t fail journalists went to the house they used to live in Seaton crew and they spoke to the new owner and he said that I opened a letter by mistake and he said there was an address in Panama City I was actually the first British journalist on the ground in Panama I got the address I managed to talk my way into the complex I was just hammering on the front door I’ve been there I’ve done about 40 minutes and I’m just knocking and knocking and knocking and unbelievably this little voice came back what do you want she was obviously very nervous I said why are you still here your husband’s just come back from the dead I thought you’d be back in England by now and then I got a message from one of the newspapers you’re not going to believe this but we’ve just been presented with a picture of John and Ann in Panama 18 months ago so she’s lying through her teeth she was stood there smiling next to her husband who she claimed was dead the picture obviously spoke volumes it showed that she had been in on her husband’s disappearance and she’d lied to her sons that their own father was dead for five years and the adrenaline really starts to pump them because you know you’ve got a massive story you know there’s a big crime involved I said I’ve got something to show you and you’re not going to like this but she looked at it and she went white as a ghost she said to me the boys are never going to forgive me he was arrested before that photograph went in the newspaper and by the time the newspapers were on the streets he was in a cell and we didn’t show him that until the third interview so we allowed him to tell all these lies and then to hit him with a photograph the realization dawned on them that the game was up as far as he was concerned about Amnesia bloody blah blah blah they all went out the window when he was showing that photograph so you did actually physically paddle out to sea yes and where did you paddle to South I can’t remember what he called him no scares he paddled off in his Red Canoe making sure several people had seen him he rode down the coast a little bit came ashore and hid in the sand dunes waiting for his wife I had just made my wife or basically told her that you know if we were doing things then she had to agree and she picked me up he wasn’t actually there I had to sit and wait a while eventually we came towards the car and he said he had everything with him that he needed what did you do with the canoe just let it push it back out to sea or no just pushed it over the sleeve I assume then the most difficult deception apart from the official deceptions must have been the voice yes I thought it was extremely painful always has been their home in Seton caronia Hartley pool was the base for their deception but it was the sea they looked out on every day which provided a cover Story the one of the UK was watching The Daily developments and thinking this can’t get any crazier and every day it got a little bit more crazy they’re far [Music] home he was living there right under everyone’s noses according to and Darwin the fact that they owned both properties gave them freedom when visitors including their two sons Came To Stay John would move into the bed setting number four leaving just a thin partition separating a supposedly dead man from those who grieved him he lived a pretty miserable existence between a grubby one-bedroom place next door and then hopping the passages late at night and you know spending time with his wife but he couldn’t really do anything or go anywhere he knew the only way to actually be able to live his life as a free man again would be to go overseas John and Anne Darwin intended to start a new life together here in Panama they bought an apartment here and some land but the plan somehow went wrong he obtained a false identity and new passport he assumed the identity of a dead baby yes I don’t think I would be able to pass off as a 21 year old John claimed he wanted to come back from the dead because he wanted to be reanented with his sons and he’d miss them the truth is I don’t think he cared about a month before John Darwin disappeared the banks had been in touch seeing their mortgage and credit card repayments were set to double but instead of selling off their assets and paying off their debts John and Anne Darwin opted for the most extraordinary course of action it wasn’t actually the biggest Financial crime in history far from it uh the payouts I think were about 250 000. John Darwin was never gonna uh to clear himself bankrupt because that would be an admission of failure and there’s not a narcissistic born who will admit failure they both face multiple charges of fraud John did the most sensible thing he’s ever done his life and pleaded guilty she pleaded not guilty using the very rarely used defense of marital coercion I sat through the trial in Middlesbrough Crown Court and it was obvious from day one she was lying for five years she played The Grieving Widow with such a plum that even her children believed their father was dead the boys were called as prosecution witnesses in court they didn’t look at their mother at all as they gave evidence because of the fact that she tried to get off she got a longer sentence six years and six months they both served half the time so John got out a few months before her this was a woman who’d never even had a parking ticket before in her life it was a mystery it seemed destined never to be solved one battered Red Canoe washed ashore it would probably talk to say it was a crime of its time but you possibly could still lose I would never say never John Darwin returned today to the beach where he disappeared nearly 10 years ago I thought I was worth more dead than alive and that was the truth it was the most astonishing story of my career you keep thinking that surely got to the end of it but you never know just never seems to die
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