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Canoe fraudsters now have 'no known assets'

Back-from-the-dead canoeist John Darwin and his ex-wife Anne now have no known assets after his £40,000 pension was seized, the Crown Prosecution Service said today.

John Darwin and his ex-wife Anne, who now have no known assets after his £40,000 pension was seized. Credit: PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The couple, who faked his death in the North Sea 13 years ago, allowing her to claim hundreds of thousands of pounds in life insurance payouts, have now repaid £541,762.39p.

While John hid in the martial home in Seaton Carew, near Hartlepool, Anne pretended to be a grieving widow, fooling even their two sons.

The couple then moved to Panama to start a new life.

But their story unravelled when John returned to the UK, claiming to have amnesia, in December 2007.

The Darwins were eventually prosecuted for fraud and were jailed in 2008.

The couple, who have since split, have been subject to Proceeds of Crime hearings.

She has repaid more than £500,000 while the £40,000 he paid in July last year from his pension meant he no longer had any assets.

Following his conviction, the court found that John, 64, had benefited by £679,194, but having pretended to be dead, all assets were in his wife's name.

The court therefore made an order for £1 allowing the CPS to amend the order should any assets, such as this pension, become available.

"The Darwins now have no known assets remaining for confiscation. When John Darwin devised his plan to defraud insurance companies, he didn't think he'd get caught at all. But he also didn't bank on the dedication and determination of my team to recover the money he stole - even seven years later. This case really shows that fraud doesn't pay. My thanks also go to police colleagues in the North East Regional Asset Recovery Team for their hard work."

– Nick Price, Crown Prosecution Service

Sky News statement

Sky News is committed to the highest editorial standards. Like other news organisations, we are acutely aware of the tensions that can arise between the law and responsible investigative journalism.

In the 2008 case of Anne Darwin, Sky News met with Cleveland Police and provided them with emails offering new information relevant to Mrs Darwin's defence. Material provided by Sky News was used in the successful prosecution and the police made clear after the trial that this information was pivotal to the case.

– John Ryley, Head of Sky News

We stand by these actions as editorially justified and in the public interest. We do not take such decisions lightly or frequently. They require finely balanced judgement based on individual circumstances and must always be subjected to the proper editorial controls.

– John Ryley, Head of Sky News


Sky News admits John Darwin email hacking

Sky News has admitted illegally hacking into the emails of John Darwin, the man who faked his own death in a canoeing accident off Seaton Carew.

The broadcaster says it authorised a journalist to access Darwin's Yahoo! account because it was 'in the public interest'.

It says the evidence it discovered was handed to police, who used it in the successful fraud prosecution of Darwin and his wife Anne in 2008. They were both jailed after claiming thousands of pounds in life assurance payments in the scam.

Sky News is part of BSkyB, which is 39% owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. His now-defunct newspaper, the News of the World, is being investigated over allegations of illegal phone hacking.