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Lure of the water goes on for Darwin; notorious fraudster snapped enjoying river.

'BACK from the dead' canoeist John Darwin has been spotted returning to the water as he enjoys his new life.

Seventeen years after he faked his own death in a North Sea canoe accident, the 68-year-old is now living in a beautiful tourist spot in the Philippines with his second wife.

Pictures emerged of him looking relaxed swimming in the clear waters of the Hinatuan 'enchanted river' with wife Mercy May.

Former teacher Darwin infamously "disappeared" with his canoe into the North Sea off Seaton Carew, County Durham in 2002.

But five years later he left police bewildered when he walking into a police station after his apparent death.

What unfolded after that was nothing but extraordinary.

Darwin faked his own death so his wife of the time could make fraudulent insurance and pension claims. And in a bizarre twist it was a photograph in Panama that led to the couple's money-making ploys to be exposed.

But today, it seems those bleak days are long behind 'Canoe Man'.

While Anne Darwin lives a quiet life near York, and is reconciled with her sons, Darwin married second wife Mercy May, from Manila, four years ago, less than two months after they met online.

Mr Darwin was seen paddling out to sea Pictures have of Darwin relaxed in his canoe on March 21, 2002, at Seaton Carew, in Hartlepool.

Later that day he was reported missing after failing to turn up for work at Holme House Prison, Stockton, where he worked as a prison officer.

A large-scale search was launched stretching all the way from Seaton Carew to Staithes.

The operation was described by rescue teams as looking for "a needle in a hundred haystacks".

The search was later called off and Darwin was presumed dead.

His smashed-up boat was found months later at North Gare, near a spot known locally as the Blue Lagoon, by the mouth of the River Tees.

Six months after his disappearance, Mrs Darwin said: "All I want is to bury his body. It would enable me to move on.

"It's difficult to grieve without bringing things to a close but as it is, I'm in limbo."

During the time Mr Darwin was presumed dead, he would stay in one of his properties, which was split into 15 bedsits.

By day he would be holed up in the top flat and at night he would creep into the family home via a secret doorway emerged looking in a hidden behind a wardrobe. Their sons were lied to throughout the ordeal, and continued to search for answers about Darwin's disappearance.

Meanwhile, a death certificate was issued stating that Mr Darwin had died on March 21, 2002.

A year later his wife was paid pensions, insurance and benefits claims enabling the couple to pay off their mortgage.

What no one knew at the time was that the couple were heavily in debt and desperate to raise funds.

Mr Darwin was presumed dead until 2007, when a man walked into a London police station claiming he was John Darwin.

He told confused police officers that he had no memory of the last five years.

He was able to give his name, date of birth and personal details, but claimed he did not know where he had been.

A joint investigation was launched between Cleveland Police and the Metropolitan Police to try to unravel where Mr Darwin had been over the previous five years.

In the meantime Anne had given a media interview saying she was "overjoyed" at the news her husband was still alive.

The lies unravelled when a picture of the couple property-hunting in Panama came to light. While in hiding, Mr Darwin and his former wife had become exhausted from living a lie and decided to move abroad.

Darwin applied for a passport in the name of John Jones, using his home address in Hartlepool, and one was issued.

And it was while in Panama that the Darwins posed for the now-infamous photograph with one of the property companies.

When a member of the public found the picture online, the couple were arrested.

In 2008, Mr Darwin was jailed for six years and three months after admitting eight deception charges.

Mrs Darwin was sentenced to six and a half years in jail for fraud and money-laundering.

Their fraud is estimated to have totalled PS250,000.

While in prison, Mrs Darwin decided to separate from her husband.

John Darwin

married second May, four than presumed dead, one of his was split By holed flat the via Pictures have emerged of Darwin looking relaxed swimming in a river in the Philippines with wife Mercy May

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Seaton Carew, from where John Darwin seemed to go missing
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Apr 12, 2019
Words:787
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