Detective who led the John Darwin case and brought 40 killers to justice launches career as crime novelist

He brought more than 40 killers to justice and led the worldwide manhunt for missing canoe man John Darwin.

Tuesday, 28th August 2018, 9:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th August 2018, 9:21 am
Detective Supt Tony Hutchinson with picture of John Darwin during a press conference after he re-appeared back from the dead.

Now former murder squad chief Tony Hutchinson has launched a new career as a crime-writing novelist.

Tony, who moved to Hartlepool when he was nine, joined Cleveland Police in 1978 and rose through the ranks where he was promoted to detective superintendent in 1999.

Tony Hutchinson

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It was in this role that he led the investigation into John Darwin, who was believed to have died in a tragic canoeing accident in Seaton Carew in 2002.

In 2007, Tony was the senior investigation officer on the ‘canoe man’ inquiry - a sensational case which became one of the biggest global media stories of the year.

Darwin and his wife Anne were jailed for six months and three years for fraud and six and a half years for deception and money laundering respectively.

Tony has brought 30 years of real-life experience to the pages of his two new crime fiction novels.

John Darwin

“I understand investigations and have tried to bring that element of police procedure strongly into my books,” said Tony, who now lives in Newcastle.

“It’s important to me that they are authentic and give me a genuine feel for how an inquiry is run.”

His gripping debut, ‘Be My Girl’, is a fast-paced police procedural that follows DCI Sam Parker’s pursuit of a serial rapist who counts on perfect planning to keep him one step ahead.

DCI Parker’s second outing, ‘Comply or Die’, sees her lead her murder team into the chilling world of honour-based violence.

Anne Darwin

Tony, who studied at Hartlepool Grammar School for Boys and Brinkburn Comprehensive, headed Cleveland’s murder investigation team from its inception in 2001 until he retired a decade ago in 2008.

He has also worked in homicide inquiries in Copenhagen and Amsterdam where UK citizens have been murdered.

After success and acclaim as a high profile detective, Tony admits launching his new career as an author is thrilling and scary at the same time.

“I enjoy the whole writing experience but writing for pleasure and keeping your brain active is one thing, writing for publication is a different ball game altogether,” admits Tony.

Detective Supt Tony Hutchinson during a press conference in the John Darwin case.

“Butterflies in the stomach doesn’t come near to describing how I feel.”

The case of the missing canoeist:

John Darwin was reportedly seen paddling into the sea in his red canoe opposite his home at The Cliff, in Seaton Carew, on March 21, 2002.

The following day the remains of the canoe were found washed up on the beach in Seaton sparking a massive search involving police and coastguard. Darwin is not found.

A year after disappearance, an open verdict was recorded at his inquest and he was later declared dead allowing his ‘widow’ Anne to claim £250,000 in insurance money.

While his two sons thought he was dead, Darwin was secretly living in a bedsit he entered through a secret hole in the wall of the family home for about three years.

Detective Supt Tony Hutchinson during a press conference in the John Darwin case.

In 2006, John and Anne flew from Newcastle to Panama where they were photographed by a property agent - which later blew open the scam after it was printed in a nation newspaper after Darwin’s return.

In December 2007, Darwin walked into a police station in London claiming to have amnesia saying he believes he’s a missing person.

Three months later, Darwin pleaded guilty to seven charges of obtaining cash by deception and a passport offence.

While Anne Darwin denied six charges of deception and nine of using criminal property.

On July 23, 2008, John was jailed for six years and three months for fraud. Anne Darwin was jailed for six and a half years after she was found guilty of deception and money laundering.

Tony Hutchinson