The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe (2022) s01e02 Episode Script

Episode 2

I'm going to fake my death.
We'll be able to claim the life insurance.
Don't let me down, now.
Police, please.
I think my husband might be missing.
Or you could just tell the boys.
If it ever goes tits up, they'd be implicated, wouldn't they? - He's gonna be fine.
- No, sweetheart.
I think we've lost him.
I really do.
I'm afraid they are now calling the search off, Anne.
Where is the last place anyone would ever think of looking? Next bloody door! To be honest with you, Anne, this is pretty much case closed for us now.
John! For heaven's sake, someone will see you! See who? I'm dead.
Right, come on, Dobbin.
Shake a leg, work to do.
We'll start with Mutual Assured.
I think you'll find they owe me 136,000 of your Earth pounds.
And you will go out through number four, won't you? Obviously.
And don't let them give you any nonsense.
They owe us, fair and square.
'Good morning, Assured Mutual.
How can I help you?' Oh, hello, could you tell me who I need to speak to about making a life insurance claim, please? 'Hold the line, please.
'I'll just put you through to the relevant department.
' Sadly, no, they've not found his body yet, I'm afraid.
Erm, sorry, would you mind holding again?' Yes, I'll hold.
What do you mean, "They need to discuss it"? Just that.
No-body claims have their own rules, apparently.
It's all quite complicated, so they need to discuss it.
I knew this would happen.
You've let them bully you, Anne.
This was nothing to do with being bullied.
These are simply their rules.
You can't be trusted.
I should have done it myself.
Oh, my God, I wish you had bloody drowned.
I beg your pardon? - You are so selfish.
- Me, selfish? You literally never think about what this is like for me, do you? What it's like to be terrified of every single knock on the door.
Wondering if it's the bailiffs again, or another well-wisher wanting to give me a hug I don't deserve.
Or the police saying, "We know what you did.
" All you ever say is, "The worst is over, love.
" Well, it might be for you, but let me tell you it is most certainly not for me.
On an hourly basis, John.
On an hourly basis, I am still having to lie to my parents, to strangers and to our sons.
So for me, every day is still utterly, utterly awful! Well, I'm sorry I'm not actually dead, Anne.
I'm sure you would love to have all that insurance money to yourself.
Ring Mutual Assured and tell them you want a proper meeting, face to face.
And don't take no for an answer.
And remember the boys are coming tonight.
So pick up your dirty washing, please.
And put the toilet seat down.
All I'm saying is, you read about people, don't you, in the papers? People who've had a stroke or banged their head or something, and got amnesia, and they end up I dunno, living on the streets or in some hostel or wherever, and then they just suddenly turn up, however many months later, not knowing what the hell happened.
They found his canoe, though, Ant, all smashed up.
Well, exactly, that's what I'm saying.
What if it was smashed up because it got hit by a bigger boat and Dad had a head injury, but .
But managed to swim to shore? Well, it's certainly possible.
And we should never give up hope, should we, Mam? - See you in the morning.
- I'll see you in the morning.
Night, mate.
- Night, darling.
- Night, darling.
- Love you, Mam.
- I love you, too.
Sleep well, all right? Get some rest.
You sleep well, too.
'Your move, John boy.
' Someone has been a very naughty lady dragon .
And is going to be punished with a smacked bottom.
And so, what I am here today to tell you, Mrs Darwin .
Is that, unfortunately, Mutual Assured is not currently in a position to be able to pay out on your husband's policy.
I'm sorry if that comes as a bit of a shock.
It does a bit, yes.
Can I ask why? The problem is that you have no death certificate.
But the police found his smashed-up canoe, they've closed the case.
As far as they're concerned, he is definitely dead.
And I don't doubt it.
But as far as the coroner is concerned, he can't be declared dead until the requisite period of time has passed.
Once that period has passed, and he is then able to hold an inquest and thus issue a certificate .
Then, of course, we'll be delighted to honour the claim.
And how long might that be, then, that requisite period, in a no-body case, how long would normally that be? Roughly.
The standard time, in a case like this, Mrs Darwin, the usual period is seven years.
- I'm sorry? - Give or take.
We had no idea.
I mean, my boys and I.
We had absolutely no Seven? Oh, Lord.
I'm so sorry.
Afraid I have another meeting.
Of course.
I'll see you out.
One last thing I should add.
If you do let the premiums lapse during those seven years, then the policy would become void, I'm afraid, with no payment due at all.
Death certificate or no.
Well, good day to you, Mrs Darwin.
And once again, my sincere condolences on your loss.
You know what? It's actually very simple.
What we need What you need to do - Me? - You need to utilise the sympathy factor.
- The what? - People feel sorry for you.
You said it last week, they think it's awful what you've been through.
- It is awful.
- So we need to exploit that.
We need to use your pain and misery and the boys' grief to get what we need.
So So you go to them, the police, and you tell them how completely impossible it is for you to move on, to get closure, because you will never, ever truly accept that I am dead, until you have a death certificate in your hand.
- John - And then you plead with them, you beg them, Anne.
Oh, you sob and you cry, and you beg them to persuade the coroner to hold an inquest.
And not in seven years.
No, not in five, four, three, two, one, but now.
Right now.
In fact, you insist.
Because it is your right.
You want me to exploit people's genuine sympathy for your benefit? Well, obviously don't put it like that, but yes.
And actually, it's for our benefit.
That's nit picking, I know, but still.
Every time I think you can't sink any lower, you surprise me.
No, John, I will not do it.
I will not.
- Anne - You won't persuade me this time.
I won't.
Just no.
So you expect me to just sit in that stinking room for the next seven years, do you? I don't expect anything of you, John.
Well, maybe I will turn myself in, then.
Maybe I'll turn myself in, and tell them everything.
I wonder how long we'll get.
It's a white collar crime, but still, be a few years, I'd imagine.
And you'd probably miss Anthony's wedding.
- Hello.
How can I help you? - Good afternoon.
I'm here to collect a duplicate birth certificate - in the name of John Jones, please.
- John Jones.
The problem is, the only person who can permit the coroner to expedite an inquest is the actual Home Secretary.
The thing is, June I just don't know how we can move on.
My boys and I without a body, or a certificate .
With nothing to hold on to, I just don't know how we can ever truly move on.
I will call him again.
- Yes! - She just said she'd call him again.
I know, but I feel it, Anne, I do, in my bones, that we'll get there.
And now we have this That means I can get a new passport, and then we're flying, love.
We're flying off to live somewhere warm and beautiful.
Away from all this endless bloody cold and rain.
And people wanting to stop you making something of yourself.
And we can start again.
Just the two of us.
Go back to how it used to be.
When we used to laugh and have hopes.
And were happy.
No? And I am sorry, love, that it's taken so much longer than we thought.
And I do appreciate everything you've done.
But I do also genuinely feel .
That things are going to start to get easier now.
I really do.
'Except it wasn't nearly over.
'The days of waiting turned to weeks, 'which turned to months, which turned to bleak midwinter.
'And when I wasn't terrified of being found out 'by the insurance companies' '.
I was still having to deal with the bailiffs.
' Are you in there, Mrs Darwin? Can you come to the door, please? 'So whilst we waited for an answer from the coroner 'I spent my days trying to fend off the banks.
'As John applied for a new passport with his fake identity, 'and started searching the world for somewhere we could live.
'And then it was Christmas again.
' - Hello! - Hiya, Mam.
- How are you? - All right.
How are you? You all right? There you are, Mam.
OK "What d'you give a dog for Christmas?" I don't know, what do you give a dog for Christmas? "A mobile bone.
" A mobile bone.
D'you want a top-up, Grandad? Oh, yeah.
"Why did the pony have to gargle?" "Why did the pony have to gargle?" Why? Dunno.
- Because it was a little "Horse".
- It was a little horse.
Come on, we had that one last year.
Looks really good, Mam.
- To Dad.
- Aye.
- To John.
- To Dad.
To my boy.
We drove past Butler's Hill on the way up, and the snow was starting to fall, and it reminded me of that sledge we built with Dad.
Snow Rider.
Yeah! How long did we spend making that? A year? And it lasted one go.
No, no, I don't have children.
Not really my thing.
And after the cancer took Anne, I guess I'm looking for the next big adventure.
Professional and personal.
I mean 'You ever thought of investing out here?' That's so funny.
Well, I think I told you about my affinity with horses.
Well, it's almost a spiritual thing, really and - Mince pie? - Yes, thank you, love.
How is everyone? All gone now.
- The boys had to visit Lou and Flick's families.
- Right.
You could go too, John.
- I'm sorry? - You could go.
Have the life you seem to really want.
This is the life I really want, with you.
- Is it? - Yes, of course.
Happy Christmas.
It's just a bit of fun.
It's just a game.
It doesn't mean anything, it's just a game.
'And then, finally, in February, 'John got the news he'd been waiting for.
' 'When he first went missing, I stayed up all night.
'I didn't go to bed for days.
' It was a nightmare.
And it's still going on.
I feel very much in limbo.
People die, they have a funeral, they have a headstone.
There's something to mark the fact they existed on this earth.
But without a body .
I don't know how we can mark John's life.
It's the same for the boys.
They need help to move on.
There was no indication, from our extensive investigation, that Mr Darwin could have staged his disappearance in any way.
What we do know, however, is that the canoe was barely watertight, let alone seaworthy, so we believe the most likely scenario is the vessel sank, and Mr Darwin was carried into the shipping lanes by the treacherous currents off North Gare beach, where we believe he very sadly drowned, with his body almost certainly then being swept out to sea.
Sadly, we will probably never know for sure what happened that day, which is no comfort to the family, 'but is why I can now record an open verdict, 'and declare John Ronald Darwin missing, presumed dead.
'I very much hope you will now have an opportunity 'to move on with your lives.
' 'Over the next few months, we received cheques 'for nearly a quarter of a million pounds.
'Which meant we could pay off the global mortgage 'and finally start selling the rental houses.
'All 12 of them.
'Two months after the inquest, his new passport arrived.
'It was all going to his plan.
'What could possibly go wrong?' What the fuck?! 'Swore blind it was him.
'Worked with him at Holme House Prison, he said.
Alan Hudson.
' I remember Alan.
Just walking along the promenade, he said.
I mean, no-one would like him to be alive more than me, June.
You've not seen anyone who you thought looked like him? - But with a beard? - But with a beard.
I'm really sorry, no.
I mean, if I did, did you want me to call you? If you wouldn't mind, at least so as we could eliminate them.
- Of course, happy to do that.
- Thanks, Anne.
I think it might be sensible for me to go away for a bit.
I've been researching some business opportunities for us in America.
And now I have my new passport, I thought I might head there for a week or so.
Kill two birds with one stone, as it were.
Could you get me some cash out? Please.
'A part of me was almost relieved when he left.
'And then just two weeks later' She told me it was a watertight investment.
Stupid tart.
How much? - Fifty.
- Fifty thousand pounds? Dollars.
I'm not that daft.
And what else didn't she give you? It was never like that.
She said she had a ranch we could invest in.
It was just business.
- Can I come through? - Do what you like, you will anyway.
'And so that was that.
'And now we settled back into a dull routine.
'With the next two years passing in the opposite of a blur.
'John kept searching for his dream, 'I kept working and saw no-one other than family.
'Very occasionally, we would fly to another country 'to see if we could live there.
'John would lose some more money, and then we'd fly home, 'to drink wine on our own, waiting for something to change.
'And then, finally, one day, 'against all the odds, it did.
' It has anonymous bank accounts, it's not obsessed with law and order, meaning you can actually get stuff done.
It's Catholic - that's one for you there - and last but not least, it's just beautiful.
So what first attracted you to the low-tax, high-corruption country of Panama, John Darwin? It looks very lovely, but it's 10,000 miles away.
- Five.
- It's another world.
Well, like I said before, that's exactly what we need.
A fresh start, a brave new world.
So what would our life be there? Well, whatever we wanted it to be.
But I've been looking into .
So, we buy a plot of land in a scenic spot somewhere, near a lake or a river, or hiking trails.
And we build some cabins, one for us, and others we just rent out to tourists, and then we start advertising it.
Riding, swimming, rafting.
I mean what a life that would be, Anne.
And I know that in the past, I've sometimes bitten off more than I could chew.
But I really think this one is doable.
I genuinely do.
How would the boys visit? I don't know, but they visit here OK, don't they? Except we'd be living as man and wife there.
I presume? Of course we would.
And as for the boys OK, so, this time, I'm not going to pretend that I've got all the answers yet.
But we'll work something out, haven't we always? No.
And if you liked the idea, I think they'd support you.
I think they'd want you to be happy.
What I suggest, first up, we just take a holiday there.
Look at some land and just We play it by ear.
We just see how it feels.
What do you say? I need to speak to the boys.
Did you not consider Alicante, Mam, if you just wanted warm? I also want a bit of an adventure.
I've spent the last four years rattling around that great big house on my own.
Every day the same, every day looking out to where your father I just wanted a change, a bit of sunshine.
I thought you'd be pleased for me.
And we are, sorry.
I think we're a bit surprised, that's all.
But it's a great idea.
And you're right, maybe an adventure's exactly what you need right now.
Will you stop bloody slowing down? What if I see somebody I know? Love, you're acting daft.
Or I'm not coming! It says taxi that way.
This is more than 5,000 miles away.
Wait till you see the land we're visiting.
It really is out of this world.
And this is my wife, Karina.
Karina, this is Anne and John who I told you about.
- Oh, hello.
- Hello.
Lovely to meet you.
- So, how was your trip? - Muy bueno, gracias.
Oh, very good.
You are honorary Panamanians already.
That's actually all she knows.
- So, what's the plan, Mario? - OK.
So, we start first thing tomorrow, there are two plots we will see in the morning, one in the afternoon, and then we will do the same each day, so three or four a day, till either I wear you out, or you find your dream.
- Hopefully the latter.
Sounds good? - Sounds good.
Oh, sorry, would you mind? It's just a thing we do with our clients.
'Aside from the initial lie, 'this was easily the most stupid thing we did 'in those five and a half years.
' Annie! Shake a leg, love! We'll be late for the next appointment.
Can't we just buy this one? You said that about the last one.
And all three yesterday.
Could we actually do this, John? Do the numbers actually work? I think so.
I need more time to go through them all in detail, but .
My gut tells me yes.
And has my gut let us down yet? 'Over the next two weeks, we saw dozens of plots, 'through several agents, 'each one more beautiful than the last.
'And I can't deny, 'I slightly started to fall in love.
' And we could do painting classes, maybe get in some local artists to teach, and cooking courses, using local produce.
I bet we could even grow our own vegetables What? Nothing.
I'd just forgotten how pretty you are when you smile.
Be quiet.
It's true.
Well, it's been a long time since I've felt like I could.
And maybe I'm being stupid, letting myself get carried away with it.
You're not being stupid at all.
I mean, I'm not saying it'll all be easy.
We've got a lot of baggage, as they say.
And I think we have to accept that we can't change the past, what we've done.
But I do wonder if here, at least, we could live alongside it a little more comfortably? Not pretend it never happened, just let other things be important again as well.
Like sun.
And smiles.
- And s - Shush! Which is all very well and good, John, but we do still have two sons back home.
And my mam and dad.
And your dad.
And every time I kid myself there could be a way forward, I always come back to them.
What I've done to them all.
And I get that.
But my dad's very old, not long for this world, and no offence, but yours neither, probably, as sad though it is.
So that leaves the boys.
And here's the thing, love.
I listen to them when they come up, talking round the kitchen table with you, I listen to them always.
And let me tell you one thing I know for sure.
They are happy.
You've done your job.
They're going to be OK.
So don't ever lose sight of that.
- Con gusto.
- Gracias.
De nada.
To happiness.
To happiness.
'We went back and forth several times over the next year, 'and in the end, bought a lovely apartment 'in a quiet part of the city, overlooking the sea.
'Having also found a plot of land we liked, 'we agreed John would stay to push that through '.
Whilst I went back to Seaton Carew 'to finally sell the two remaining houses.
' 'ADT Bank.
How can I help?' Oh, hello.
I hope you can help, please.
I want to transfer a sum of money from my deposit account in the UK - to an American bank in Panama.
- 'Certainly.
- 'Would you mind holding?' - Yes, I'll hold.
'And then it was time to tell the boys.
' And starting up your own business, Mam, in a foreign country, you feel confident you can do that, do you? Look, I know it's a lot to take in, but I just can't bear the thought of giving up already, of throwing in the towel at the age of 54.
I might have another 30 years in me.
And I think I have the right to try to be happy again, to try for a new life somewhere.
Somewhere away from the past.
And obviously I'll come back and visit regularly.
And when I've settled, you can come out and visit me.
But you've got your lives to lead now, and you don't want to be worrying about having to drive all the way up to see me every other weekend That is never a And you haven't ever made it feel like a chore.
But I just want you both to be free to start thinking about your own families now.
So The houses are going on the market.
And as soon as I've found buyers, that'll be it.
I need a big change, boys.
To be able to move on I need to be somewhere I can forget.
'We managed to sell number four in mid-2007 'and then a few months later, 'we also found a buyer for number three.
' - Haven't changed your mind, then? - Sorry, no.
So It's all in there.
Take whatever you want, or take nothing if it doesn't feel right.
It's entirely up to you.
I'll put the kettle on.
All right.
- I still miss him.
- Me too.
Miss ringing him to find out how to build something badly.
Or how not to handle a work dispute.
Oh, yeah! - All done? - Yeah, all done.
Good stuff.
So can I just ask each of you to sign those, please? It's just some inheritance tax stuff.
All very boring, you don't need to read it.
- Sure.
- No problem.
We're always at the end of the phone.
Proud of you, Mam.
Go for it, all right? Enjoy yourself.
Totally bloody nuts.
John? Hiya, love.
Lovely to see you.
How are you? I'm good.
I'm excellent.
How was your flight? Yeah, fine, thanks.
Let me get you a drink.
Have a seat.
And how have you been, all on your own? Yes.
Yes? Everything OK? Yeah, fine.
John, can you leave that a second? I'll get you a glass of that stuff you had last time.
John, what's the matter? - Prosecco, wasn't it? - John.
We might have a little problem.
What sort of a little problem? And this is absolutely not my fault because they only just changed the rules a few months ago so there was literally no way I could know about it.
What sort of a problem? To get permanent resident status here now, you have to have a signed letter from a police force in your country of origin, attesting to your good character.
Which is obviously a bit tricky, given that my character doesn't actually exist.
So you're saying we can't actually live here? Not literally, no.
- Oh, my God, John.
- I know.
How could you have missed that? There was so much else I had to deal with.
And you found this out when? After I got on the plane? I mean, when did you find this out? Actually, a few weeks ago.
And you didn't think to tell me?! To maybe stop me shipping all our possessions out here? Yep, fair play.
I could have been a bit more reactive there, but to be honest, I was just so preoccupied with the land deal.
- What land deal? - The land we saw, love.
The land we agreed to buy.
I remember that land deal, John.
Of course I remember that land deal.
But you obviously wouldn't spend $400,000 on that land deal, if you'd just learned you couldn't actually live or work here, would you? Only a mad man would do that, wouldn't they? It was a bargain.
You're frustrated, and I get that.
It's obviously disappointing for both of us.
But everything happens for a reason, Anne, and this has actually given me room to think.
Because in truth, I'm fed up of skulking in the shadows.
I want to be able to see the boys again, as their dad, and for us to live normally, out in the open, as man and wife.
So I'm going to fly back to the UK.
I'm going to present myself to the police, and I am going to tell them I've had amnesia.
Because bottom line, love I've had enough of being dead.

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