Canoe conman John Darwin in hot water after seeking romance in the Ukraine

John Darwin
John Darwin

LOVE-SEEKING canoe conman John Darwin is expected to be arrested and sent back to prison when he returns to the UK, sources have revealed.

Reports suggest Darwin, who faked his own death in a canoeing accident in 2002, had jetted out to the Ukraine to meet up with a 25-year-old woman he met through an online dating website.

But probation chiefs confirmed that any unauthorised trip out of the country would be a breach of the terms of his early release, and he could be recalled to prison to serve a stretch which could range from 28 days up to the rest of his sentence.

The 63-year-old was jailed in 2007 when he was found guilty of a host of fraud charges after staging his own death in an attempt to fleece £500,000 from insurance firms.

It later emerged he had fled to Panama in Central America to start a new life with wife Anne.

It is six years this weekend that Darwin bizarrely walked into a London police station claiming he was suffering from amnesia and did not know where he had been.

But after pictures were published in a tabloid newspaper showing Darwin with a blonde woman in the Ukraine, police are now looking for the former teacher about the apparant breach of the parole conditions slapped on him when he was freed from prison after completing half of his six-years and three month sentence.

Residents in Castleton Road, in Seaton Carew, where Darwin now lives, told the Mail that police were in the street looking for the dad-of-two on Monday evening and then again yesterday.

And one neighbour said Darwin had told her daughter last week that he was planning a trip away “for three weeks.”

Under the terms of his release, the former teacher was prevented from travelling abroad unless special permission was granted by the Probation Service.

Those terms remain in force until October next year.

But according to the report, the cash-strapped conman – who is now estranged from Anne – wooed his date in a Ukrainian restaurant on Saturday before handing over a red rose and leaving in a taxi with the blonde and another woman who is thought to be an interpreter.

After being freed from prison in January 2011, Darwin stayed with a friend in Easington before returning to live in Seaton Carew’s Ruswarp Grove, a short walk from the address at The Cliff where he lived at the time of his so-called disappearance and then hid while friends and family thought he had died.

He is regularly seen in and around Seaton, particularly at The Staincliffe Hotel where there is a bar named after him.

After the fresh allegations hit the headlines, neighbours told the Mail that police had been to both Darwin’s house and his previous address in the last 24 hours.

One neighbour said: “To be honest I don’t really speak to him too much, I don’t see him that often.

“But only last week he told my daughter he was going away for three weeks and I haven’t seen him since.”

Another neighbour of Darwin’s said: “I haven’t seen him for a few weeks, I just presumed he must have been away somewhere.”

The new owner of the house where Darwin previously lived in Ruswarp Grove said police had been to her house on Monday evening.

She said: “I’ve been in this house since April but I still get loads of people knocking and asking for John Darwin, and I still get a lot of his post through the door.

“The police knocked here on Monday night and asked for him, but I didn’t know what it was about then.”

A Ministry of Justice source told the Mail an investigation is now underway after the story appeared in the national media.

It is understood the Probation Service has issued police with a recall notice for Darwin, meaning he will be returned to custody then given a breach hearing at court where a judge will determine how long he will serve.

A spokesman for the Probation Service said: “Any offender subject to licence supervision is required to gain permission from probation to travel outside of the UK. Permission is only granted in exceptional circumstances.

“Any offender who travels without this permission will be subject to recall to custody.

“In these circumstances the Probation Service works closely with the police to implement the recall.”