Where is John Darwin now? What happened to Canoe Man?

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe: ITV shares first look at series

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John Darwin is infamous for being the Canoe Man who faked his own death. In March 2002 John decided to canoe out into the sea to stage the elaborate ruse after his amounting debt got too much for him. The story of him and his now ex-wife Anne Darwin is back in the public eye after the new four-part TV series on ITV, The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe aired this week.

The now 71-year-old con-man is leading a very different life.

Currently, two episodes have aired live, with the entire series available on ITV hub, and fans of the show will have noticed how the relationship between him and then-wife Anne changed over time.

Back on March 21 2002 John left his wife to sound the alarm of his death when he went out to sea and failed to return, and when he didn’t turn up for work at Holme House Prison, the search for the missing husband began.

His wife was in charge of claiming his £250,000 life insurance policy while he remained in hiding in an adjoined flat that he would sneak back and forth from via a hidden door within a cupboard.

The pair eventually moved to Panama, and after their plans started to unravel, it was a photograph of the duo that was taken in 2006 that would mark the start of their demise.

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On returning to the UK, John walked into a police station in 2007 and claimed he didn’t know where he had been for the last five years and had amnesia.

After investigation, the photo was unearthed, and in 2008 he was jailed for six years and three months after admitting to eight fraud charges.

His wife Anne was also sentenced to six-and-a-half years in jail for fraud and money-laundering charges.

He was released on probation in January 2011, with Anne released two months after him, and during their time in incarceration, they filed for divorce after Anne said she wanted to end their marriage.

The couple were from Seaton Carew, near Hartlepool, and were jailed at Teesside Crown Court.

Despite many viewers only learning the story now, many years have passed since the true event, so where is John Darwin now?

The former fraudster resides in Manila, Philippines, with his new wife, Mercy Mae Avila Darwin.

The couple met online, and she is 23 years his junior.

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John is believed to still be continuing to receive the UK state pension, and his wife runs a clothing stall in Manila.  

Mum-of-three Mercy married John in 2015, and as reported by The Mirror, Mercy revealed that her husband was off to fight for Ukraine.

She said: “Yes, dangerous for the Russian when he shoot them (sic).

“He will have a bullet proof vest and good life insurance, good for me.”

He is also reported to have limited contact with his sons, however, former partner Anne has been forgiven by her two sons, Anthony and Mark.

In an interview with This Morning in 2016, Anne said: “I came through that [depression in prison] with help and I’ve managed to turn my life around.

“I made the best of the opportunity that I could with all that was on offer in prison as far as education.

“I equipped myself with up-to-date qualifications so I could find a job and give myself the best chance to start a new life.”

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe is available to watch on ITV Hub. 

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