Darwin was a mini-celebrity

John Darwin
John Darwin

CANOE man John Darwin has told of how he became a mini-celebrity in prison with fellow inmates desperate to know his story.

Darwin, 60, spent three years in jail for his £680,000 scam and during that time he joked with staff about his crime, while prisoners wanted to hear how he got away with faking his death to claim insurance cash.

And even tough crooks were curious how he faked his canoe death and fled the UK.

Darwin, who also spent hours chronicling jail life in a diary which he hopes to publish, was released in January after serving half of his six-year term for the con which gripped the nation.

The conman told a national newspaper: “I spent most of my time in my cell writing my diaries. I had started reading Jeffrey Archer’s. They did not tell you much about real prison life.”

He also told how how Durham prison warders jokingly tried to curb his keep-fit privileges and says: “They stopped me using the gym rowing machine in case I tried to escape to Panama again.”

And he recalled funny moments at Doncaster’s Moorland Open Prison saying: “I approached the gate and said to the prison officer, ‘is that the way to Panama?’ It made him smile.”

The former prison worker, who now lives in Easington Colliery, says his chief concern is for his 37-year marriage to wife Anne after not speaking to her since a row over the phone in November.

He said: “If I thought I would lose her I’d not have returned from Panama. It will have been for nothing if I lose Anne.”