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Featured Image Credit: ITV
ITV's new, stranger-than-fiction true crime series airs on Easter Sunday and we're already counting down the minutes..
The four-part series, titled The Thief, His Wife And The Canoe, is based on the true story of a British man who dramatically faked his own death to claim life insurance and avoid bankruptcy.
Anne became complicit in her husband’s plan and deceived their family and friends, the police and insurance companies, into thinking that he had gone missing in 2002 whilst canoeing off the coast of Seaton Carew in Cleveland.
The couple owned two large houses with panoramic views of the sea. The Darwin’s finances spiralled out of control after Darwin accumulated debts of £64,000 on 13 credit cards by extreme spending.
He kept a low profile whilst Anne was questioned as the police investigated his “disappearance” and slowly started to unravel the Darwins’ lies.
The mum-of-two also lied to their sons, Mark and Anthony, who were 31 and 29 in 2007, who believed their father had gone missing during when the fake accident took place.
A police investigation was launched in September 2007 when a colleague of Anne overheard a suspicious phone conversation with her “dead” husband.
Following a change in Panama visa laws which would require Anne and Darwin to confirm their identities with the UK police to secure Panamanian visas, Darwin returned to Britain and claimed to have amnesia.
Anne pretended to the shocked but the police had already suspected something was amiss after Anne sold the family home, took trips abroad and sent large sums of money abroad despite being a broken-hearted widow.
When the Daily Mirror published a story featuring the picture of the Darwin’s in the Panamanian real estate office, their lies were finally uncovered. In December 2007, Anne confessed to knowing that Darwin had been alive all along.
Anne pleaded not guilty at her trial in 2008, arguing that she had been coerced into the plot by her husband.
The jury didn’t believe her, and she and her husband were both jailed for more than six years.
Monica Dolan and Eddie Marsan take the roles of Anne and John Darwin in the series which was written by screenwriter Chris Lang.
The Thief, His Wife And The Canoe is based on an unpublished manuscript written by David Leigh who was the first journalist to track down Anne as she started setting up a new life in Panama.
The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe airs on ITV, Easter Sunday at 9pm