John and Anne Darwin were exposed by ‘three simple words’ and two unexpected women

Canoe man John Darwin and his ex-wife Anne Darwin were rumored to be bombarded with a single photo – but it may never have been found if it hadn’t been for a curious young single mother and his wife. an efficient real estate agent

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The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe series trailer from ITV

If it weren’t for ‘three simple words’ – the Darwins could have gotten away with their diabolical plan.

Conman John Darwin rowed out to sea in his canoe to fake his own death in 2002, leaving Anne Darwin as a grieving widow while she received a £250,000 life insurance policy husband’s.

The former couple used their meager earnings to fly around the world to start a new life, eventually buying a £200,000 tropical property in a village in Panama. 2007.

But John decided to move back to the UK after changing Panama’s visa laws, but continued the lie by claiming that he had amnesia when he arrived at the police station.

At first, his remarkable comeback is hailed as a miracle, but the couple’s lies begin to unravel when a single photo exposes their daring plot.

It might never have been found if it weren’t for a curious young single mother and wife of an efficient real estate agent.

While trying to find somewhere to start their new life, John and Anne arrived in Panama and began talking to Mario Vilar, the president and CEO of a relocation company and agent. land, MoveToPanama.com.

John Darwin faked his own death in a canoe


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Anne Darwin is part of the plot


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The company, owned and operated by Mario and his wife Karina, specializes in relocation services, and John felt it was an ideal place to find information about the country that he felt would definitely provide it. them a safe haven.

At the end of their trip, Mario asked if he could take a picture of himself with his new British friends – and they didn’t raise any objections.

Former Mirror journalist David Leigh, who was sent to Panama and managed to spy on Anne, explained it all in his book The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe based on the ITV drama.

David writes: “The Darwins have very little time to think or make excuses. Anne smiles widely as she stands between John and Mario.”

“Both were aware that keeping a low profile was required, but they agreed to the photo anyway. After walking out of Mario’s office, they thought nothing of it. What harm could this possibly do? ?

“Few could imagine how badly that innocent vacation moment would come back to haunt them seventeen months later.”

A police financial investigation began three months ago when John reappeared as they became suspicious of Anne, who was on holiday abroad and transferring a large amount of money abroad.

But they got the confirmation they needed when The Mirror published the incriminating photo alongside the headline ‘This canoe in Panama?’.

Darwins photo with real estate agent Mario taken by his wife, Karina



The photo was found simply by searching for the words ‘John’, ‘Anne’ and ‘Panama’ in Google Images.

Mario’s wife, Karina, explains that she’s the one responsible for getting the Darwins to pose for the accusatory snap.

David believes the ladies’ man John wants to impress “tall, blonde and vivacious” Karina, and thinks he will arouse suspicion by saying ‘no’ to a photo .

“They said it was fine,” laughed Karina, “and I took the picture.”

Their fates were indeed sealed in the blink of an eye, with Karina adding that they “may not have mentioned” to the couple that the photo would be posted online.

Karina made two simple decisions that would bring charges against the pair, the first being that she put her camera on to date the image captured, 18 months before he was ‘returned from the dead’

She then types the words ‘John’ ‘Anne’ and ‘Panama’ and stores them along with the website’s address, which means they can be found in a Google search.

But it wasn’t the police who released the photo, as a young, single mother posted a picture of herself online and called.

The image was reconstructed for the ITV series Thieves, One’s Wife and Canoe



David wrote: “She then used the wonders of the world wide web to blow the story of John and Anne Darwins to the small screen. It was simple but wonderful.”

“While researching the story online, she entered the words ‘John, Anne and Panama’ into Google and hit ‘image’.

“She pressed the back key and in a flash, a picture appeared in awe. Its existence has made the story explode into a whole new level of drama.”

When confronted with the photo, Anne broke down as she told reporters her life had become a “nightmare” and confessed: “Yes, that’s him. My sons never will. forgive me”.

John was sentenced to six years and three months in prison for admitting to deception by faking her own death, while Anne received six and a half years behind bars – with both serving half the sentence.

David explains that Anne often says she “doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about”, asking why there is still “all this interest” in the story.

Speaking on This Morning this week, he said: “She clearly wishes this didn’t happen but accepts that she played a role in it and understands to some extent the fascination from the public. .

“This story is 15 years old and still going, so I think she’ll be happy when it’s over and she can move on with her life and spend time with the boys.”

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