John and Anne Darwin’s grandson – first meeting in prison and who can babysit

Anne Darwin, who is married to canoeist John Darwin, had no idea she had a grandson until he was brought to visit her in prison by her son Mark – but now they’re vacationing together

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‘Canoe conman’ journalist discusses Darwin’s relationship with his sons

As well as rebuilding their relationship with their kids while in prison, John and Anne Darwin had grandchildren to meet.

The former couple lied to their own son with a plot to fake John’s death in a canoe crash in 2002, while Anne played the grieving widow and took on his £250,000 life insurance policy ta.

Anthony and Mark, who were not part of the audacious scam, comforted their seemingly devastated mother while their supposed ‘dead’ father was actually sitting next door just away few meters.

They discover the shocking truth about Anne and John’s lie at the same time as the rest of the world and immediately reject their parents, claiming that they never want to see them again.

“It was a cruel act of betrayal that no parent can inflict on their children – the pain and suffering it caused me and my brother is indescribable. Mark will share my life forever.

Since then, however, it has been the hardest to reconcile and Anne has turned into a doting grandmother.

John and Anne Darwin with their sons Mark and Anthony


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John was sentenced to six years and three months in prison for admitting fraud by faking her own death, while Anne received six and a half years behind bars for fraud.

Anne explained to The Guardian: “After it was revealed that we were living together in Panama, I kept writing to Mark and Anthony to say, ‘I’m so sorry. I really love you guys”.

“But they refused to see or talk to me. The first time I laid eyes on them [afterwards] at my trial when Mark was the first to testify against me. After leaving the witness box, he raised his eyes only briefly to meet me. I was completely shocked by their darkness and anger. To see that is absolutely terrible. “

Mark had decided to visit his mother at Low Newton Prison shortly after her trial, but their first meeting was brief, arduous, and solemn.

But they started building bridges on subsequent visits, and brother Anthony finally decided to face his mother for the first time since her crimes were exposed.

Anne made a big surprise when Anthony and his wife Louise arrived at Askham Open Prison, near York, where she was transferred in 2010.

For the first time, Anne is introduced to a nephew she didn’t even know existed.

Mark Darwin (right) and Anthony Darwin leave Teesside Crown Court after giving evidence against their mother Anne in 2008


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Journalist David Leigh explained: “Anne nervously walked down the cobbled street of Askham Grange, not daring to believe Anthony would be there waiting.

“So did his wife, Louise. They drove 200 miles north of their home to introduce Anne to the grandson of someone she didn’t know.”

Anne was released from prison in March 2011 after serving half of her sentence, while John, from whom she divorced, had gone two months earlier.

Since then, Mark has revealed that he has forgiven his mother to a certain extent but admitted he won’t trust his parents in financial matters.

Mark, who lives in Hertfordshire with his wife Flick and their two sons, says he could never do for his children what his mother did to him.

It was a pivotal moment in 2016 when Mark invited Anne with his family on a vacation to Spain and they posed for a romantic photo together.

“Well, I never dreamed I’d be happily photographed with my mom,” he told The Mail at the time. “What I went through to get to a stage where I was able to forgive was difficult. It took a lot of thought and a difficult process to accept her mistake.”

John and Anne were exposed by this photo at a real estate agent in Panama


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John’s sons did not forgive him



Mark explained that all the information he got to know was only through the media or at the trial – and it was only on the first day of the trial that he realized Anne had been part of the scheme from the start.

He said: “I have forgiven her, to some degree, but I will never understand. Nor have I forgotten. I have even overcome, to some degree, the need to gnaw. No words can describe the kick in the teeth I felt when I found out she was in the whole thing.

The Darwins’ son contacted his father and when asked if he could forgive him, he simply replied: “Probably”.

Continuing, he added: “But at least I have my family,” he paused again, “not whole, never whole again. But they are present. They are still alive. Do I feel the same way about them No, I don’t But love is there Just… different I love my mother Not in that childhood, completely Do I trust them ? Yes, I do, but only insofar as it won’t adversely affect me.”

His brother, Anthony, was less forgiving and refused to talk to John, but he had a more distant relationship with Anne than Mark.

One of the boys actually managed to sneak into the set of The Thief, his Wife and the Canoe to disguise himself for the day.

Eddie Marsan, who is playing John in the four-part series, said: “We didn’t know anything until a few weeks later. He came in with a baseball cap and a Covid mask to watch. We didn’t. received any response.”

* The Thief, His Wife and the C Anoe airs on ITV at 9pm from Easter Sunday to Wednesday April 20

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