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Good evening. Thai soldiers have

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THEME MUSIC a man who faked his own death This is John Darwin, so he could steal a fortune. and paddled out to sea. I took the canoe out claim the insurance to tide us over. I disappeared because I wanted to of police interviews In this exclusive footage he and his wife Anne hundreds of thousands of dollars. reveal how they swindled Was it his idea? Yes. He could be very manipulative. of Darwin's lies. Tonight, the full extent

of a 5-week-old baby. How he stole the name to steal a dead child's identity. It's the lowest form of life He's just despicable. and exploited his own children. How he deceived

Mark thought you were dead. in a money-laundering process. You used your son Yes. around the globe And how he travelled halfway to live out a fantasy.

and he's ruined my life. He is a fake I think he's a slimy worm. were both caught out. Finally, he and his wife I said, "I'm sorry, the game's up. that you've been lying." It's pretty obvious story of the canoe man. Now on Four Corners, the inside betrayed by a family photograph, John Darwin, lost at sea, and now in jail. that astounded the public. It was a story in a canoeing accident A man thought drowned

5.5 years later, turns up at a police station claiming to have lost his memory. His wife proclaims it a miracle. His sons express disbelief. may be just too good to be true. Only the police suspect the story Nobody was more surprised than I station in London, believe you me. when he walked into that police Is this a Christmas miracle? I don't know. I just deal in the facts. The obvious focus now for ourselves of John Darwin pre disappearance. is to look at the movements were right to be sceptical. Detectives at Cleveland police They soon discovered that Darwin's wife worth ?250 million. had cashed in insurance and pensions After his dramatic reappearance north-east for further questioning. they brought him back to his native in interview room number one OK, Mr Darwin, we are of Kirkleatham police office. After living a lie for 5.5 years, was about to tell the truth. John Darwin

of Darwin's disappearing act, This was the scene of England. Seaton Carew on the north-east coast and former teacher. Darwin was a prison officer to Seaton in December 2000. He and his wife Anne had moved were grown up Their two sons, Mark and Anthony, and living away from home. property millionaires The couple dreamed of being around the town. and had bought 13 houses was the jewel in their portfolio. Their home at number 3, The Cliff, in the stock market For Darwin, who also dabbled and traded at car boot sales, another road to riches. property offered John couldn't settle to one job. see if there was more money in that. He had to keep trying another job to It was the way they measured success.

to measure success. The way he'd been brought up

He was aiming to have lots of money. Lots of money. But the Darwins' dream was crumbling. of a successful property empire The rent they got from tenants on their houses. didn't cover the mortgage payments confident and full of himself, He seemed very as they say up here. as he thought he was with money. I don't think he was as clever on a Seaton sea front When Darwin arrived on a cold March afternoon in 2002, he had a lot on his mind. and the bank was demanding money. He was drowning in debt he was going under. He knew financially a headland called North Gare. He paddled out to sea towards was watching. His neighbour Harry Rusen My wife Sue shouted at me to say, in his canoe." "Look at this guy going off in rough weather Sue thought he was going out close in. and it was only the breakers It wasn't rough weather. Nothing unusual about it. as the guy down the road I recognised him he knows what he's doing. and I know he goes out, I just said, "Oh, he's OK." Gareway, towards the shipping lane. He was heading towards the north across the shipping lane, I said, "He won't be going it's a bit dodgy." (FOGHORN SOUNDS) Harry was right. Once out of sight of onlookers

Darwin headed straight back to dry land. Amazingly, Darwin was saying he had faked his own death. Had he acted alone? His wife, Anne, had appeared to be an innocent victim, but that was all about to change. Now in police custody, Anne Darwin was about to face her own moment of truth.

For the police, a key puzzle was now solved.

The couple had indeed been acting together. She's making admissions about knowing about the disappearance. Anne went on to tell how she'd dropped her husband at the station

and then gone home and reported him missing. Anne Darwin's hoax 999 call

had sparked a massive air and sea search. There was helicopters and police helicopters involved in the search.

We had two all-weather boats and another four inshore lifeboats. There was probably a total of about 40 guys at sea. Experts on the currents highlighted a huge area where the canoe might have drifted. By dawn we'd covered roughly about 200 square miles of sea, doing a fingertip search all the way through. Erm, the guys were getting pretty tired. After 16 hours, the search was finally called off. The lads' morale was down. Have we missed something? Is there something else we could have tried? But I think we were all pretty clear in our heads that we'd searched wherever we could and I don't think we'd left any stone unturned, really. The operation had cost over ?100,000. John Darwin finally admitted that he'd faked his own death 5.5 years after vanishing in his canoe off the north-east coast. In his interviews with Cleveland police, Darwin revealed the level of planning he'd put into the fraud.

His first aim was to get a new identity. So a month after his supposed drowning he visited his local register office and ordered a copy of someone else's birth certificate.

The real John Jones had died in 1950 at just five weeks old. Darwin claimed the theft of the baby's identity was victimless, but John Jones had a family. Half a century after he died in infancy, a detective was sent to break the news to his surviving relatives. Thanks for getting the family together for me. My name's John Groves - I'm from the Murder Investigation Team, Cleveland Police. Darwin had searched the death column of a local newspaper and then simply gone to the register office and stolen John Jones's details. The false birth certificate that he's used is that of your brother who died in 1950. It's just despicable really that a man can steal a deceased baby's identity, because he's a dead man walking and he'd done away with his own identity. To steal a dead child's identity and to do something like that, the lowest form of life to do that and to put a family through what they have done, it's just totally despicable. That's the only thing I can say, it's just despicable.

Along with everyone else, John Jones's brothers and sisters had initially found the story of the canoe man amusing. We've all cracked jokes about it. Mostly myself. I've cracked jokes about it. It was a funny thing,

someone walking in the police station, doesn't know who he is. It was just a joke. I never gave it one thought that it was my brother, I was like calling. He's hurt his own family and he's hurting somebody else's family he doesn't even know. Back in the summer of 2002,

Darwin had had no qualms about using a dead child's name. He was more concerned with keeping his own identity a secret. Now, sporting a beard, he was back in Seaton Carew. And, amazingly, he was living with his wife at number 3, The Cliff. This is the upstairs front room. This is the room Mr and Mrs Darwin used as their lounge. This is how it was set out when we moved in. This is how the furniture was.

The current owner bought the house from Anne Darwin in 2007, unaware of its astonishing secret. This is the view the Darwins had from their front room and lounge and Mrs Darwin would have had once her husband allegedly disappeared. Upstairs, the master bedroom had a unique feature. John Darwin built a false cupboard to hide a secret passage. This led directly to the house next door which the couple also owned. When you open it, it looks pretty normal until you realise that the actual surround of the cupboard isn't proper architrave for a doorway, it's skirting board. When you look closely, you realise there is a false back, which, when you pull it open, does reveal a breeze block wall. When the Darwins lived here, there were no breeze blocks. The false cupboard led straight through to number four. Whenever friends called, John Darwin could slip through the secret door and hide in the attic of the neighbouring house. This is the top floor of number four.

This is the secret door leading through from number three, Mrs Darwin's bedroom

into what is possibly Mr Darwin's secret bedroom with his view over the North Sea, matching next door. When strangers arrived at the house,

Anne would introduce her husband as a handyman. When I knocked on the door, I just met the lady of the house and a gentleman came and he referred to the lady as Mrs whoever. The gentleman says, "I'm the odd-job man." He was very self-opinionated and he came across as quite arrogant. He wanted to know everything, even though it was so-called for the lady of the house. He wanted to take charge as in how much everything would be and itemise every wall, every ceiling. Why does this need doing? We don't think this needs doing. And then afterwards, I came out after an hour and a half of pricing and I even said to my wife, strange people. Cleveland police were slowly unravelling the Darwins' story. John Darwin was clear that Anne was involved throughout. But was she a willing accomplice or a reluctant partner in crime?

He's indicated his wife in that particular disappearance.

She picked him up after he'd come back onto the coast in his canoe and she's driven him away to somewhere out of the county. It will be very interesting to see what she says. But whether she disapproved of the fraud or not, her role was crucial. She pressed to have her husband declared officially dead. And even before that, within weeks of his disappearance, her name was on an insurance claim for ?137,000. And there was more.

Anne claimed ?85,000 from his teachers and prison service pensions.

There was even a bereavement grant from the government.

Altogether, she was ?250 million richer. Anne Darwin has corroborated a lot of what was said in John Darwin's interview. It's apparent that nearly six years after the original disappearance

that we are getting some semblance of the truth, really. I think it was quite interesting in relation to the team work that was displayed that, you know, one was good at maths and one was good at English. They've got their heads together, quite clearly, and come up with a quite elaborate and complex plan. The Darwins cleared the debts on their struggling property empire and began selling their houses off at a profit. Instead of banking the cash in the UK, they hid it in a complex web of offshore accounts beyond the reach of the authorities. By 2004, Darwin, with cash to spend, was fed up with hiding away in sleepy Seaton Carew. The small-town man had big-time ambitions way beyond the north-east of England. Kansas, the heart of America's Mid-West. Land is plentiful and property is cheap. Darwin first got the idea of living here while he was playing an Internet war game. Using his fake name of John Jones he befriended a married mother of two from Kansas city, Kelly Steele. He was pretty nice, just like anybody else on there. I mean, he didn't stand out from anyone else. He was just another player. He seemed to be on there all the time. I probably played with him for a year on there. I considered him as a friend, I guess, of sorts. At that time. When Darwin realised cattle ranches in the wild west were so cheap he wanted a piece of the action - his very own home on the range. He said he'd send money out to buy a run-down ranch.

Kelly would renovate it and run the business. I started looking into some properties and stuff and gave him some information on prices and things.

Then he actually wired the money and that's when I knew he was for real. Soon afterwards, Darwin, using his John Jones passport,

decided to fly to Kansas to meet his new business partner. But Kelly began to have doubts about him. He was really quiet for probably the first 5 or 10 minutes. He seemed a bit on edge, a little nervous, and I told him he could put his bags back into my daughter's bedroom 'cause that's where he was going to stay. Probably 10 minutes after that I was in the kitchen cooking and I came around the corner and the door was wide open and he's removed his top and he is in the process of removing his pants and pulling them down for everyone to see and at that point I raised my voice and asked, "What are you doing? We do not change with our doors open in America. I don't know what you do in your country, but this is not acceptable here. You cannot do this." 2.5 weeks after he arrived, Kelly asked her new business partner to leave town. Back in Seaton Carew and with his property investment in America on hold, John Darwin was looking for other ways to spend his stolen cash. He knew he was on borrowed time living in such a small town. His mind turned to a place in the sun. John Jones contacted me, because we had a catamaran for sale and he was interested in purchasing the catamaran to live aboard long-term with his partner. Essentially, he wanted a boat that you cross oceans in and spend a lot of time aboard and become self-sufficient. The name of the boat was Boonara and she was a 12-metre Salaras catamaran built in 1973. Initially, it belonged to Princess Rainier, would you believe. In her day, she was one of the best long-term cruising boats you could buy. But a boat once fit for a princess had lost its regal sheen when it came to Darwin's attention. Of course, by this time she was at least 32 years old and looking a bit worse for wear. The engines needed servicing to make sure they would run properly. It needed new batteries and maybe some of the upholstery needed replacing. It was certainly not a luxurious boat. It was certainly within his budget, let's put it that way. Darwin haggled over the price, knocking it down from ?60,000 to just ?30,000. But the deal still wasn't good enough for him and Anne. They insisted that the owners do more work on the boat before they would buy it. Upon his return to the UK, we received another email and that's when he really started to dig his heels in. If you read his emails, he is quite clearly ranting and raving, almost to the point where you think, this guy is losing the plot.

I actually don't want to deal with him. I would much rather he doesn't buy the boat.

The owners refused to give into Darwin's commands and the deal collapsed. Instead of sailing off into the sunset,

John Darwin found himself back on the beach in Seaton Carew. He still had $50,000 tied up in the ranch in Kansas.

As he took his daily stroll, his mind turned once again to his US investment.

We were about halfway finished, getting this ready, about halfway through the process. He started getting really anxious and sending aggressive emails and wanting to know why it's not ready yet. "How come we are not done? What's taking so long?" It just wasn't getting done fast enough for him. Then he started sending back,

"Well, I want half of my investment back now." Well, that wasn't the deal

and I obviously didn't have the money to give him half of the investment back immediately. And then it went to, "I want all of my money back, now." Kelly couldn't get the money together. She couldn't sell the property and she couldn't get a loan.

She was about to see the dark side of her business partner. Basically, he threatened to kill us. He threatened to have us tortured, first. He threatened to hurt my animals and he threatened to burn the property. Darwin even claimed to know a gangster from New York who would enforce the debt. He suggested that he had contacts with a family, a mobster family by the name of Giovanni.

He also writes, "They do have photos of you and your daughter. They said, 'She's cute.' And you'd better inform your dear sister, too, as they will have to contact her if they can't find you." He writes, "Some questions you might think about to pass the time - why did my horse get sick? Was it Godfather 1 where that man's favourite horse got its head cut off?

Do the brakes on my car need checking? Is the grass too dry around the house and barn? What's that noise outside? Be assured that debt collectors will visit you. Lock up your wives and daughters when they are in town. Let the nightmare begin." That's how he signs off. Whether he would actually commit an act, a violent act himself, I do not know. I think maybe it is just a scare tactic, but what if it's not? That's the whole thing. It's always in your mind, what if it's not? I have numerous dogs. I have a loaded shotgun next to my bed. I keep weapons throughout my house, hidden. That's how I've lived after I got this email. By 2006, John Darwin had been officially dead for three years.

But his attempts to build a new life had repeatedly failed. His American dream was in tatters. His hopes of sailing around the world had sunk without trace. But now he and Anne came up with a new plan

that might just allow him to finally escape Seaton Carew. It was yet another fresh start in yet another country. Panama, the southernmost part of Central America and a place that's long offered refuge for people who want to disappear. In July 2006, John and Anne Darwin contacted a Panama-based estate agent about finding a local property.

Anne came down to Panama. She did let me know that she was widowed. She introduced John as a friend/partner. Never introduced him as her husband. I always saw them very happy together

and she also mentioned that she had two sons. I never asked...John, you know, and he never said either whether he had any kids or not.

Just looked like any other couple coming to Panama to buy some land. Diana took the Darwins to a small town called Escobal, two hours away from the capital, Panama City. Here they fell in love with a vast 481-acre plot of scrubland and jungle. There was no running water, no electricity and a single road. But, as usual, John didn't let reality get in the way of his dream. When they saw this land that was pretty much virgin land that also was on a lake and all kinds of little insects that they really liked. They both were really enthused about the different animals and birds that you can find. For the first time in years, the couple felt able to pose for photographs. At last they thought they were anonymous. But their existence in Panama was built entirely on lies and their confidence in front of the camera was about to hasten the end of their fantasy lives. They seemed very happy and they loved being out on the land in Escobal and they were really looking forward to making a dream house out there. The Darwins paid $390,000, around ?200,000, for the land. As ever, there were big ideas and big plans - building an upmarket eco-lodge for tourists and even running canoeing holidays. Back home, their house in Seaton Carew was sold and they bought a small fully furnished apartment in Panama City.

Their sons wished their mum well in her new life, not knowing that their dad was alive and well by her side. By now, they'd transferred all their cash into Panama's notoriously secret banking system. With their household goods on their way in a container, they decided to take a short break. I spoke to Anne Darwin last, it was the, I believe, 30th November.

They were on their way coming back from passing a couple of days or some vacation in Costa Rica and they were looking to coming back to Panama and starting to build a little dream house on their 194.8 hectares in Escobal. But 24 hours after that phone call to Diana, things were to change and abruptly. John Darwin took a cab to the airport and flew back to the UK, later claiming to be missing his two sons. Shortly after landing, he began saying he had lost his memory. NEWSREADER: Good morning. It's just gone seven o'clock. A canoeist who went missing, presumed drowned, more than five years ago in the north-east has walked into a police station in London. Mr Darwin walked into the West End Central Police Station in London four days ago and declared that the police may be looking for him. He was in apparent good health, tanned, well-nourished and dressed. He went on to say that he had no recollection of what had happened in the previous five years. As news of Darwin's reappearance became public, his wife was about to come under siege. For the British press pack, the race was on to get an interview with her. First off the plane was reporter David Leigh. The English papers contacted me - they were desperate to find the wife of John Darwin and find out whether she knew about it, whether she'd been contacted.

All we had was the name of the block she lived in. We didn't have the full address or the street name.

Even then it was late at night, and trying to find the apartment block was quite hard work. I came in and I saw the list of residents and, sure enough, 4B was Anne Darwin and I knew I was in business, basically. You could see from the slight gap under the door there was no light on so it looked to all intents and purposes like there was no-one here. But with nowhere else to go

and knowing this was one chance of getting to her, I kept knocking on the door and saying, "Mrs Darwin, are you there? It's great news about your husband." Just firing questions and hoping, if she was in there, I'd get some response. Just stood there knocking and knocking and almost when I'd given up hope, that was this little voice that came back saying, "What do you want?" I just couldn't believe it. The door swung back and there was this grey-haired lady standing there and she said, "You better come in." Anne Darwin appeared delighted that her husband had been found alive after 5.5 years. She gave an extensive interview, but did her story add up?

I was having dinner with Anne on the day after we left her apartment and the 'Mirror' on our news desk rang me and said they've uncovered a pretty sensational picture. I said, "Can we go back to my room, because I've got something I need to show you. I'm sorry, but this isn't going to be very easy for you." The photograph was of the Darwins, smiling together as they inspected property on their first visit to Panama in 2006. It was found by someone in England who had searched the Internet for Anne Darwin. It was devastating proof that she'd known her husband was alive and well at least 18 months before he came back from the dead. I said, "I'm sorry, Anne, but the game is up.

It's pretty obvious that you've been lying and what have you got to say for yourself?" She looked at the picture for a long time and she stared at it and she held her head in her hands and she was visibly distressed. She didn't say anything for five or ten minutes and I said, "What are you thinking?" and she said, "Well, I guess that picture says an awful lot, doesn't it?"

NEWSREADER: The north-east canoeist who turned up years after he was feared drowned has been arrested. It comes as a national paper publishes a picture...

The photograph meant Cleveland Police had to act as the newspaper hit the streets. They arrested John Darwin on suspicion of fraud. Across in Panama, time was also running out for his wife. Anne set off for Seaton Carew and the detective she knew would be waiting. Atlantic, she finally came clean. And on the journey across the all along. She had been involved of lying to everyone The stress and the tension was making her feel ill, basically.

her family, her friends She was lying to everyone, and she told so many lies of return. that she'd gone past the point She was relieved she was going home,

very frightened. but, yeah, she was very frightened, We touched down at Manchester Greater Manchester police officers, and all of a sudden five Manchester, armed, came onto the plane. absolutely terrified She must have been officers all around her of these towering armed police and she was gone. and they read her her rights to live anonymously in the sun Now the couple who wanted were back in the UK a sensation around the world. and at the centre of a story that was had headed for home, But still no-one knew why Darwin

for his final police interview. until, that is, he settled down his debts and sold his houses, Darwin claimed that once he'd cleared the insurance money back. he'd always intended to pay to pay the money back, But if he was planning all his cash overseas? why did he move Why did he buy a ranch in Kansas? on buying a yacht? Why did he plan buy a vast tract of land And why did he and Anne and an apartment in Panama. they'd received a tip-off According to the police, very much alive. that Darwin was still They believe it was no coincidence just a few weeks later. that he'd chosen to hand himself in There was always the suspicion met his death that Mr Darwin hadn't actually in the sea off Seaton Carew. coming forward to the police There was information which kept actually still alive and well to suggest that Mr Darwin was in the Seaton Carew area. and quite possibly living some information which came forward, Quite recently there was which I'm sure would have taken through to Panama a financial investigator would have been located and these two people as a result of those enquiries. that John Darwin was missing, Throughout the years had no idea he was still alive. police say his sons Mark and Anthony In 2006, transfer the stolen insurance money they unwittingly helped their mother into foreign bank accounts. parents had colluded in the fraud When they discovered that their from the very beginning, issued a damning statement. brothers Mark and Anthony contact with their mum and dad They said they had cut off all speak to them again. and decided they would never will ever get over it. I don't believe that the sons going to scar them for life. It's obviously can live with themselves - How John and Anne Darwin how they are going to do that. I don't know that they've lived It's a 5.5-year protracted lie and it's affected a lot of people. to him. I've seen a dark violent side is that not dark also? But what he's done to his family, to their children To do what they've done as what he did to me. is just as vicious in my mind fake death, the stolen money, The bill for John Darwin's

the air-sea search, the investigation is more than ?1 million. But as they start their sentences, counting the cost. the Darwins are still but living behind bars. Back from the dead,


This program is not subtitled CC THEME MUSIC Welcome back to the west, highlights of the weekend, getting ready for one of the real the open men's Taplin relay, this is, and what a magnificent state Western Australia, so much to see. the big, big state of Peter Colquhoun waxing lyrical in WA. at the Surf Life Saving Championships But not this big: It certainly is a big state, Peter. From the coast, to the outback, to Margaret River, to the Flinders Ranges

something for everybody. Ranges were in South Australia - Last time we looked, the Flinders of the border with WA. almost 1,000km to the east I'm Jonathan Holmes. Welcome to Media Watch,

opinion columns. I don't usually get stuck into the Grafton Daily Examiner But the editor of sent down such a long-hop last week I can't resist taking a swipe at it. The horror! from way back, Peter Chapman is a sports buff with views to match. According to him,