ITV1’s ‘The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe’ is a must watch; it recasts the narrative of the 2002 disappearance of John Darwin and shows his wife as an under the thumb woman manipulated into fraud – just as said 71-year-old fraudster has supposedly headed off to Ukraine to fight
Whilst the disappearance of Lord Lucan on 8th November 1974 and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann on 3rd May 2007 are perhaps the two best known examples of disappearances of British citizens, the story of how the fraudster John Darwin went missing on 21st March 2002 is certainly up there in the league of “most famous British missing persons’ cases.”
Highlighted again now – after the first two episodes of ITV1’s The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe aired on Sunday and Monday – is an example of a modern-day Walter Mitty. John Darwin, the primary subject of the series, was a father of two, former teacher, prison officer and a wannabe business tycoon and he was someone with a penchant for living well and truly beyond his means.
After accumulating vast debts after buying up 12 houses to run as bedsits and a Range Rover with a personalised numberplate also, Mr Darwin concocted a plan to make it appear he’d drowned at sea and then have his wife, Anne, claim life insurance policies to clear their debts and help them start a new life free of their financial shackles.
The four-hour ITV drama – written by Unforgotten creator Chris Lang and starring Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan as John and Anne Darwin – whilst slammed by some for having accents “insulting” to people from Hartlepool is truly worth watching.
In it, whilst John Darwin is rightly portrayed as a true deviant and all-round nasty piece of toerag, his wife is shown to be an under-the-thumb and bullied woman who goes along with the plan because she has a genuine fear of what would happen to her if she doesn’t.
Controlled totally by a man who once supposedly told her only friend that he only allowed her out on voting day, here is a woman who clearly did wrong and clearly orchestrated much of their fraud because her husband was supposedly dead. Here also, ironically, is a woman whose jail sentence was 3 months longer than that of her then husband.
Whilst the real Anne Darwin served her time and is said to be making amends with her two sons, in March, the MailOnline reported that her now ex-husband’s new wife, Mercy Mae Avila Darwin, 48, had told the press that he was “on his way to Ukraine” to fight and ironically had “good life insurance.” The second Mrs Darwin, who runs clothing businesses in Manila, bizarrely remarked of the danger the now 71-year-old will face: “He will have a bullet proof vest… Dangerous for the Russian when he shoot them.”
Of her husband, Anne Darwin once remarked: “He’s got such a good memory. The problem is he was never satisfied with what he had. He always had ideas above his station. He wanted to be grander than he was.” She sums him up perfectly and after watching this show, I, for one, will say that whilst the rotter John Darwin deserves to go down in history as a truly awful specimen, his now ex-wife is a prime example of why second chances should be allowed.
To watch the full four-hour, four episode series, click here.
Pictured top – The then supposedly dead John and his then still wife Anne in Panama in 2006. The photograph had been discovered when a member of the public searched for the words ‘John,’ ‘Anne’ and ‘Panama’ in Google Images. The photo had been featured on the website movetopanama.com and was brought to the attention of the ‘Daily Mirror’ and the Cleveland Police.