Real story of the fraudsters' marriage

Anne Darwin painted a picture of a 30-year-marriage to a quiet, brooding bully who railroaded her into getting his own way.

But relatives and acquaintances tell a different story, with some suggesting she "wore the trousers" and manipulated her husband.

Her account of life as a dominated wife fell apart in court as well when details of sexy emails they swapped were read out in court.

He was unfaithful, insensitive and bull-headed, she said.

But she still loved him at the time he dreamed up the crazy plan to con the world into thinking he was dead.

That love had now perished, she said, and she wore no wedding ring during the trial.

But their sons Mark, 32, and Anthony, 29, said theirs was an equal partnership, and their parents never argued, or at least not in their earshot.

They had a happy childhood and remembered their father being the boss, but said their mother was able to put her foot down when needed.

Mrs Darwin, in an attempt to make her defence of marital coercion work, said she was made to feel inferior intellectually and inadequate by the former maths, science and RE teacher.

She said he had an affair some years into their marriage - before his disappearance - but she had forgiven him.

In a low voice, she said she did not split up from him "because it was difficult to live with him at times; it would be even more difficult without him".

When she was giving birth to their first son in 1975, Mr Darwin was with her for the labour, until medics said she required an emergency Caesarean, at which point the new father-to-be went home.

She said she begged him to stay, without success.

They first met aged about 11 on the school bus, and after he repeatedly asked her out in their late teens, she finally relented.

He had already been engaged to someone else.

Mrs Darwin said she was a virgin when they met, and had not had any other partner since they wed in December 1973 at St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in their home village of Blackhall Colliery, Co Durham.

After the birth of their children, their social life dried up.

Mrs Darwin said: "He used to joke with the neighbours that he only took me out to vote."

But her bleak description of the state of their marriage was undermined by the loving, and sometimes flirty, emails they swapped when they were setting up their new life in Panama.

And she wrote to him, begging "Don't leave me", as he flew back to the UK to hand himself in to police last year.

He wrote to her saucily from Central America when she was still in Seaton Carew: "Love you lots. Get your bum over here fast. I got something here for you and it's hot."

Their neighbour in Panama city, systems engineer Marlin Cruces, 31, said: "They seemed a nice, normal couple."

Car salesman Javier Quiros, from whom the Darwins bought a four-wheel-drive, said: "They were very happy and were talking openly about their plans."

John's father Ronald, 91, was never happy about the union.

He said Anne manipulated John - and was indifferent to his grief over the "death" of his missing son.

"She used to dominate the family and she was very stuck-up. She made John dance to her tune," he said.

Acquaintances' claims that she "wore the trousers" cast doubt on her version of events.

Adrian Meggs remembered showing the couple around their new home before they moved to 3 and 4 The Cliff in Seaton Carew.

"It was she who seemed to run things," Mr Meggs, who owns a pub nearby, said.

He added: "He seemed the quieter of the two."

A police source said: "We believe John and Anne had a row while they were in Panama.

"We think she will have said 'What are you going to do now? You're dead'.

"We think that he gave himself up because he wanted to spite her."

The theory that Darwin might have turned himself in following a row with his wife over money is given credence by his aunt, Margaret Burns, who said the former prison warder was "obsessed" with money.

"John was brought up in an atmosphere of money, money - money matters above everything else," she said.

At an earlier hearing Mr Darwin showed his wife affection, squeezing her hand in court, but she cut him dead.

"If Mrs Darwin were to have her way, she would have nothing to do with him," another police source said.



Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
  • 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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power