Anne Darwin's week in court: 'A woman able to lie and deceive at length'

In 2002, John Darwin, who, with his wife Anne, owned a portfolio of properties in the North-east, went canoeing off the coast and disappeared. No body was found; he was presumed drowned, and his wife collected insurance and pension payouts worth about £250,000. Then, last December, Mr Darwin turned up at a London police station. It emerged that Mrs Darwin had known of his faked death all along.

Monday

Anne Darwin goes on trial at Teesside Crown Court charged with 15 counts of money-laundering and deception. Andrew Robertson QC, prosecuting, said that after her husband's "death", Mrs Darwin put on a "great act", completely fooling a police liaison officer. Mrs Darwin's defence is "marital coercion". Mr Robertson said this defence requires that she prove her husband was present each time an offence was committed. He also said the deceptions were motivated by the couple's debts, totalling £309,000.

Tuesday

The Darwins' sons told the court they felt "betrayed" by a mother who kept up the pretence of her husband's death. Mark, 32, said: "She flung her arms around me. She said, 'He's gone, I think. I have lost him.' She wouldn't stop crying for ages." Anthony, 29, said he felt "disbelief and anger" when his father reappeared. Mr Robertson said: "The brothers contacted their mother and on receipt of this news that her husband was still alive, she pretended to be overcome with emotion... It is the Crown's submission that far from dealing with a shrinking violet, we have here a determined, resolute woman who was able to lie and deceive at length."

Wednesday

Within weeks of Mr Darwin's disappearance, the court heard, he rang his wife, crying and pleading to come home. Finally, she relented, and he returned to live in a house they owned next to their home. Mrs Darwin said she suggested they solve their problems by bankruptcy, but her husband, whom she described as "very manipulative", refused. Later, with the money obtained by insurance claims, he set up home in Panama, sending her emails urging her to join him, which she did.

Thursday

Mrs Darwin said her husband was domineering, had had an affair, and often joked that "the only time I take her out is to vote". He was engrossed in an online role-playing game and later flew out to the US to see a woman he'd met via this game. She said she could not stop him "because what John wanted, John got". Mr Darwin returned, having lost £30,000. Mrs Darwin said he alone handled their money and kept her ignorant of their debts. As these mounted, she suggested selling some of their rental properties, but he said this was not possible because their mortgage meant they "would have to sell all or nothing". It was around then that her husband said he was probably worth more dead than alive.

Friday

Still on the witness stand, Mrs Darwin said that she thought the pretence of her husband's "death" would last only a few months. Asked if faking a death to claim insurance money was fraud, she replied: "I didn't understand it to be fraud at the time." The trial continues tomorrow.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence