Prosecutors seize £500,000 from canoe scam wife

More than £500,000 has been seized by prosecutors from Anne Darwin, convicted of a canoe death insurance scam along with husband John.

Darwin, 61, faked his death in a 2002 canoeing accident so wife Anne, 60, could claim on insurance policies and pension schemes.

A 2009 confiscation hearing was told they made £679,194 from the fraud but at that time had realisable assets of just under £592,000.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) yesterday said it had recovered £501,641 from assets Mrs Darwin held as a result of the deception.

This figure is lower because the value of property she owned in Panama has fallen.

The money will now be repaid to defrauded insurance companies and pension funds.

Kingsley Hyland, head of the CPS's North-East complex casework unit, said: "It has taken some time to sell the property in Panama, but we are extremely pleased to have got through the very complex process of recovering this money from overseas."

Former prison officer Darwin paddled into the sea off Seaton Carew, Hartlepool, leaving his wife to raise the alarm. He later came home and lived in secret in a bedsit the couple owned next door to the family home.

Police, a coroner, financial institutions and even their sons Mark and Anthony were fooled.

The couple later moved to Panama, where they bought a flat and land that they hoped to transform into a canoeing centre. Darwin flew back to the UK and handed himself in to London police in November 2007. He claimed to have amnesia.

He was jailed in July 2008 for six years for deception, while his wife was jailed for six-and-a-half-years for fraud and money-laundering. They were both released last year.