'Missing' canoeist admits deception

Back-from-the-dead canoeist John Darwin today admitted deception.







But his wife Anne denied all charges linked to the case and will stand trial later this year.



Darwin, 57, and his 55-year-old wife were accused of a string of fraud charges totalling nearly £250,000.



The couple made their first crown court appearance in Leeds today for a plea and directions hearing at which Mr Darwin pleaded guilty to seven charges of obtaining cash by deception and a passport offence.



He denied nine other charges of using criminal property and the court was told he will not face trial for these charges, which will be left to lie on file.



But Mrs Darwin denied six deception charges and nine of using criminal property.



She will now face trial at Teesside Crown Court on July 14, the court heard.



Darwin disappeared after taking his canoe into the sea opposite his home in Seaton Carew, Hartlepool, in March 2002.



A huge air-sea search failed to find any trace of his body and he was pronounced dead by police and a coroner the following year.



It has since been alleged that the former teacher and prison officer was living next door to his wife at her seaside home in Seaton Carew for much of the time he was thought to have been dead.



The mystery of his disappearance started to unravel when Darwin walked into a London police station on 1 December last year and announced: "I think I'm a missing person."



Days later, a photograph of Darwin and his wife, a former doctor's receptionist, emerged, which appeared to show them in Panama, Central America, with a property agent.



The picture is said to have been taken in July 2006 - more than three years after Hartlepool Coroner Malcolm Donnelly recorded an open verdict on Darwin's apparent death.



Detectives said the couple's two sons, Mark and Anthony Darwin, were never made aware that their father was still alive and were innocent "victims" of the charade.





















As the couple were brought into the dock and stood facing the judge, Darwin turned to his wife and squeezed her hand.

Mrs Darwin stared straight forward and did not appear to respond.



The couple stood next to each other for the 30-minute hearing flanked by three security guards.



Darwin, who was wearing a black leather jacket over a blue open-neck shirt and jeans, entered his pleas, occasionally pausing to consult a piece of paper.



His wife, who was wearing a white cream cardigan over a white shirt with dark trousers, confidently said "not guilty" to each of the charges.



She showed no emotion and started straight ahead throughout the hearing.



The courtroom was packed with reporters spilling over into the area normally reserved for the jury.



Peter Makepeace, representing Darwin, asked for a pre-sentence report to be prepared and said his client had been seen by a psychiatrist but there were no mental health issues relevant to the case.



But Mr Makepeace said: "Mr Darwin has been in custody.



"It has been an extremely difficult time for him. There have been self-harming issues."



Mr Makepeace added: "He accepts entirely that a lengthy custodial sentence is inevitable."



The judge agreed for the report to be prepared but he told Darwin he will have to be held in custody until the conclusion of his wife's trial.



The court heard the trial will take place at Teesside Crown Court from 14 July and will probably last about five days.















News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
peopleReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
peopleThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
peopleWhat is to become of the Downton dog? (spoiler alert)
News
Bruce, left, with Cream bandmates Ginger Rogers, centre, and Eric Clapton in 1967
people
Sport
football
News
politics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker