Canoe conman John Darwin has paid back just £121 from £679k death-scam profits

John Darwin leaves Teesside Crown Court
John Darwin leaves Teesside Crown Court

CANOE conman John Darwin has paid back just £121 out of the £679,000 he made by faking his own death, it has emerged.

The 63-year-old was back in Teesside Crown Court yesterday, where he had been jailed for six years in 2008 for insurance fraud.

BACK IN COUR: John Darwin

BACK IN COUR: John Darwin

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has launched a fresh bid to reclaim more of what Darwin owes as he is said to have recently come into money as a result of pensions maturing.

A confiscation order made by the trial judge at Leeds Crown Court after Darwin’s conviction found he benefited by £679,073 from faking his death off the coast of Hartlepool in 2002.

At the time, he could only afford to pay £121 back.

But police say the debt remains in place until it is all paid off and they can apply to the courts if they believe an offender has come into more assets.

Detective Sergeant Thomas Maughan, of the North-East Regional Asset Recovery Team, said: “Assets were taken from his wife at the time but in relation to Mr Darwin only £121 was paid back.

“If the benefit figure is above the available amount that can be looked at any time in the future.

“This is an example of us revisiting an original confiscation order.”

Darwin, last of Castleton Road, Seaton Carew, made headlines around the world when he walked into a London police station in 2007 claiming to have lost his memory.

His then-wife Anne originally claimed to be surprised, but a photo of the two in Panama taken after John faked his death soon emerged and blew their story out of the water.

It also emerged that Darwin had hid at their home at The Cliff, Seaton Carew, while Anne collected more than £500,000 in life insurance payouts.

She was later jailed for six and a half years for fraud and money laundering.

Appearing at Teesside Crown Court yesterday, Darwin wore a dark suit and blue striped tie.

He was not required to sit in the dock but remained on the desk behind his barrister David Brooke.

The hearing was told all of Darwin’s accounts and assets had been frozen by prosecutors pending the outcome of the new application.

Mr Brooke said “he doesn’t actually have any money to live on” and an application to release some of his assets is expected to be made in writing soon.

In 2012, the CPS successfully recovered all the assets which Anne Darwin held as a result of the couple’s fraud totalling £501,641.

They included an apartment in Panama City and a plot of land which were both sold.

The latest application for John Darwin is due to be decided by a judge at a full hearing on May 29.