Police arrest 'missing' canoeist

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Police have today arrested a canoeist who turned up alive more than five years after he was feared drowned.

Cleveland Police said a 57-year-old man had been arrested in relation to their investigation into the disappearance of John Darwin.

Mr Darwin, from Hartlepool, walked into a London police station on Saturday.

Inspector Andy Vickers, of Cleveland Police, said: "A 57-year-old man has been arrested this evening by Hampshire Police at the request of Cleveland Police in relation to their ongoing investigation surrounding the disappearance of John Darwin, from Hartlepool, in March 2002."

Hampshire Police declined to make any comment. It is thought that Mr Darwin's son Anthony, 29, lives in Basingstoke, Hampshire.

Mr Darwin disappeared after paddling out to sea in his canoe in Seaton Carew, near Hartlepool.

No body was recovered but, the following year, an inquest was held into his 'death'.

His wife Anne, 55, yesterday told reporters she had believed her husband was dead and claimed in "good faith" on his life insurance.

She moved to Panama City six weeks ago after selling the couple's home in Seaton Crew.

"There must have been an accident when he went out on the canoe. He must have hit his head or something," she told reporters.

She said the insurance payouts may now have to be repaid.

"If that happens it won't be easy, but I'll deal with it. It's one of the things I'm struggling to come to terms with," she said.

The Darwins met as teenagers and have been married for 34 years.

Mr Darwin worked as a science and maths teacher, then for a bank and, at the time of his disappearance, was working as a prison officer at Holme House jail, Stockton-on-Tees.

Mrs Darwin said she hopes her husband will join her in Panama. She said she no longer wanted to live in Britain as she did not like the cold weather and added that she fell in love with Panama when she took a holiday there two years ago.

She emigrated after selling the seven bedroom seafront house in Seaton Carew where she had lived with her husband.

The couple's sons Mark, 31, and Anthony, 29, yesterday released a statement describing their reaction to their father's reappearance.

"The news of John's appearance came as a huge shock to the whole family," it said.

"We are extremely happy that he is alive and we are looking forward to spending time with him.

"We appreciate that there is huge media interest in this story however due to John's memory loss there is little more we can add.

"Since Saturday evening we have been through a traumatic and emotional time and this continues to be a stressful time for John and the family."