The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe (2022) s01e04 Episode Script

Episode 4

- Is that you, Mark? - 'Yeah, Mum, it's me.
'You're not gonna believe this.
I'm sitting next to Dad!' He's alive! Mark, you have your father back.
I'm so happy for you.
Would you mind? It's just a thing we do with our clients.
John Darwin? I'm arresting you on suspicion of fraud.
This is ridiculous.
'Since our dad was arrested, 'we are very much in an angry and confused state of mind.
' The front cover of today's Daily Mirror simply reads: "John never had amnesia.
" Firstly, I think you're a good person who, for reasons that are probably very complicated, did a truly dreadful thing.
Second, tell the police the truth and start rebuilding your relationship with your boys.
Anne Darwin? I'm arresting you on suspicion of fraud.
We've not spoken to either of our parents And at this present time, we want no further contact with them.
'We've not spoken to either of our parents, and at this present time, 'we want no further contact with them.
' - Anne.
- Hello.
Hello, I'm Nicola.
- Hello, nice to meet you.
- Nice to meet you too.
How long will I get? Do you think, in prison? How long might I get? So, it's very simple.
We stick her in one room, stick him in another, and we play them off.
Bottom line, Anne, the more honest you are with us, the more information you can give us about what actually happened here, the quicker we'll have all this sorted.
OK? - Yes.
- Good.
And so we are interviewing her at the same time as speaking to you, which means any answers you give us, we'll be checking with her to see if they tally up and vice versa, does that make sense? - Yes.
- Good Although do bear in mind that Anne does not have a very sophisticated grasp of financial matters.
- Right.
- Just the one brain cell, you see.
Your wife of 34 years.
Tell me about it.
Would you like me to repeat the question, Anne? No, I heard the question.
When I started the insurance claim, I still believed him to be dead.
You took quite a long time to answer that.
But she did.
I'm just wondering why you hesitated? She's answered the question.
Can you move on, please? Just remember, Anne, this is your interview.
This is your chance to tell us your side of things.
He turned up half way through.
'It's not true.
' I turned up after they'd been paid out.
I thought you said you couldn't remember when you turned up.
The specific month, I said.
But you can specifically remember that it was after the claim was settled? Yes.
Which month was the claim settled, then? Nice try.
I don't remember.
This isn't the "Yes, no" game, John.
Your wife has already told us that you never had amnesia.
She's mistaken.
Perhaps she's forgotten.
Yes, he told me he'd faked the whole thing.
- His disappearance? - Yes.
- For financial reasons? - Yeah.
Did he tell you where he'd been? No.
"Around and about," He said.
- For over a year? - Y-Yes.
But why didn't you go straight to the police at that point? He said if we went to the police We'd have to pay the insurance money back immediately, and then we'd be back where we'd started.
- Facing bankruptcy? - Yes.
So what was his plan at this point? For me to sell all the other houses, and then hand himself in when we were in a position to pay the money back.
- OK.
And how's that plan going? - Well, I'm here, aren't I? - I'm not with you.
- Why else do you think I returned? - I don't know, why did you? - To pay the money back.
Oh, so you've made contact with the insurance companies, then? Well, I would have, if you hadn't arrested me.
So it's our fault.
We spoilt your plan? You and the press.
- Ah, well, apologies.
- Accepted.
Can I just ask, though, John, if your plan was to sell all the properties, with the intention of paying the money back when you got straight Why did you move to Panama? No comment.
And buy a flat there? No comment.
And a plot of land? No comment.
Well, Anne, why did you just go along with it? Why didn't you tell him it was wrong and dishonest? I should have and I should have told the boys at that point, but he said if I went to the police, he'd tell them I was in it from the start.
You were an adult.
You could've refused.
And I bitterly regret my decision, but He was hard to resist - John was very forceful.
Why Why don't you just tell us the truth? You were in on it from the start, weren't you? She's answered the question.
Can you move on, please? So the, er, life insurance policies that you took out just three months before you went missing, is that date relevant, John? You tell me.
No, you tell me.
That's how this works.
- Is that date relevant? - No.
No? So it's pure coincidence that you took out a life insurance policy in December 2001, which then allowed your wife to make a very large claim - just 12 weeks later? - Yes.
Is it also a coincidence that on a computer hard drive, taken from your house soon after your disappearance, we've since found a downloaded file titled "Missing Persons and Police Investigations"? One of the boys must have downloaded that.
It was dated a month before you went missing, John.
Fair play.
That's a tricky one.
OK, I'm now showing Anne Exhibit AB01, which is a copy of a library card, registered at Hartlepool library, in the name of "John Jones".
Anne, can you tell me who you see on that photo? It's John.
Except this fella has a beard.
- I presume you can grow a beard? - Yes.
OK, so is that you, but with a beard? Maybe.
John, I'm asking if you can identify yourself.
- No comment.
- OK, well perhaps you could read two things out for me, then.
The date it was issued and the address.
22nd of April 2002.
Address, Number Four, The Cliff, Seaton Carew.
So just four weeks after you went missing, a man who looked very much like you Ah, yeah, but with a beard, yeah, applies for a library card and gives your home address.
But this man's called John Jones! Come on, Anne, he was living at number four from day one, wasn't he? - No.
- And you knew from day one.
I didn't.
- Were your boys in on it, too? - No, absolutely not.
Cos our economic crime unit is finding all sorts of things.
- What things? - Money transfers to Mark and Anthony, fake property sales to Mark.
Basically money laundering, very serious offence.
That was just an inheritance tax thing.
Please, they never knew anything about any of this, please.
It's interesting how upset you're getting And I tell you, I do not wanna have to bring your lads in.
Please don't.
The best way to head that off is for you tell us the whole truth.
You were in on it from the start, weren't you? No.
And you knew John was perfectly fine when you dialled 999 and said he was missing.
In fact, I'm surprised the attending officer didn't see wet footprints going up the stairs.
Am I right? No comment.
'Have a seat.
' So, we need to have a talk about bail.
No bail.
You do understand what happens now, don't you, Anne? Anyone not released on bail is kept in a prison, on remand, until their trial.
Where would I even go? I only have one friend, and she won't speak to me now.
Obviously none of my family would want me, so where would I even go? Mind the step.
Take a seat here, please.
- Heya.
- Hey.
It's all good, no-one's followed me.
I know you think I'm overreacting but last night There were about 50 of them outside the house.
Lou's had to go stay with her parents.
I've had to check in here.
- So I just spoke to the police again.
- And? They'll want to interview us at some point.
As "Witnesses", apparently, now.
Well, we don't do anything without a solicitor.
I'll call my lawyer, shall I? Uncle Michael's sorting us out with one.
How is he? Same as all of us.
I just can't stop thinking about the Literally hundreds of times we went up there, Mark To keep her spirits up whilst we were dying inside.
'D'you know how it makes me feel, mate?' Makes me really hate her.
I'm raging about them both, but at least he only told one lie.
An evil, horrible one But it was just one.
'Anne Darwin?' 'She lied to us every day for five-and-a-half years.
'Every single day.
' You start thinking, "Well, if she could lie so easily about that, "About our actual dad being dead "What else could she have lied about?" Clothes in here.
Put your wedding ring in here.
And then I think, "Wow, is it all just some "Fucked-up lie?" Our family Our childhood Our whole life with them? Did either of them ever even genuinely love us? So that's me.
That's where I am, mate.
'And here I was.
'Where I'd feared ending up all my life.
'Utterly alone.
' 'It's from John.
' "Dear Dad, just to let you know, please don't worry.
" Carry on.
That's it.
'I really don't think you've given any thought 'as to what it's like for me.
'An ex-prison officer in prison.
'I've had my food spat in, I've been punched, abused verbally.
Whatever you think it's like for you, 'it's so much worse for me.
' 'Except it wasn't.
'John had already given up his boys once, 'without a second thought, really.
'For me, it felt like my heart had been ripped out.
'My darling son, I wanted to write you again 'to tell you how profoundly sorry I am for what I have done.
'I will never be able to explain my actions, 'because what I did was as inexplicable 'as it was unforgiveable.
'But what I can say is that I love you so much.
'I always have loved you, and I always will love you, 'even if you never want to see me again, 'which I fully expect to be the case.
' 'And indeed, despite the dozens of letters I wrote to them 'over the next few months, neither replied.
'How could I possibly blame them? 'And so, finally 'Finally, I realised there was only one way forward 'if I ever wanted to see them again.
' 'I lied.
' I was in on it from the very start.
So you knew, before he went out in the canoe, that he intended to fake his own death? Yes, I did.
- And when you reported him missing? - I knew he was fine.
In fact, I'd picked him up from North Gare beach about two hours before and then driven him to Durham station, where he got the train to the lakes and camped by a stream for the next three weeks.
He then came back to Seaton and lived between number three and four for the next five years.
I never wanted to do any of it.
And I tried constantly to persuade him not to.
But I did do it.
I was in on it From the very beginning.
And I'm very, very sorry.
I faked it all.
Oh, my God.
- They said I could see you for two minutes.
- Who did? J please Cos we're all we have now, love.
Each other - John, someone could walk in - We just have to stick together.
That's enough, fella.
Right, out, now! I also wanted to tell you That I forgive you, Anne.
I do.
Call me, Anne! 'Even harder than confessing to the police 'was telling my parents that the daughter they had always adored 'had betrayed every single principle they had ever believed in.
'I fully expected them to disown me.
' 'But I am guilty.
' Well, that's what I'm saying, if we can prove that you were coerced, then no, you're not.
I didn't have to do anything.
I was an adult, I made my own choices.
He never threatened me or hurt me.
Physically, no, but emotionally? Every day of your life together, as I understand it, and I think I can argue that that wears a person down, day after day year after year, till they no longer have the strength to resist.
So what would I get? For a guilty plea, I mean.
Maybe three years? Four, four-and-a-half if you go not guilty and lose, which I should stress is entirely possible.
It's a tough defence to prove.
But if it succeeded? Well, then you'd walk free.
'It was a horrible decision to have to make.
'And for many weeks, 'I had absolutely no idea what the right thing to do was.
' 'Officers requested in rec area three.
'Please report to Officer Crenshaw.
' 'And then a few days before my first hearing, 'my parents came to see me.
'These good, good people, 'my flesh and blood who had been so shamed and let down, 'told me whatever I'd done, they still loved me.
'That they would always love me.
' I'm so scared my parents will die before I get out.
And I think, if I could just see my boys Talk to them, maybe I could And he did make me do it, he really did.
I I tried to stop him so many times.
OK, well, the pre-trial hearing is in three weeks.
- How do you want to plead? - I want to go not guilty.
'And then, finally, the day arrived.
'I'm not sure what I was more scared of - 'the trial itself or seeing my boys in court, 'a torment John had avoided by already pleading guilty.
'I was on my own.
' OK, Anne, it's time.
'Members of the jury, the defendant stands before you, 'charged with 15 counts of deception 'and money laundering.
'Mrs Darwin's defence is one of marital coercion, 'but, for this to succeed, it must be shown 'that her husband was present each time an offence was committed.
'It is the Crown's submission 'that not only was her husband very often not present, 'but that over a period of five-and-a-half years, 'and with multiple opportunities to end the deceit, 'she in fact repeatedly offended 'willingly, individually and actively.
' 'We will furthermore show 'that, far from being a submissive and coerced wife, 'Mrs Darwin was in fact a clever and ingenious liar 'who was able to effortlessly deceive 'on an almost industrial scale.
'To the police, to the Coroner's Court, 'to her work friends and colleagues 'and, perhaps most shamefully, to her own children.
' All rise.
And lastly, members of the jury, as sons, daughters, mothers yourself, I will ask you, when you look at that infamous photo in a Panamanian estate agent, if you see a terrified woman, coerced in to telling her children their father was dead, or if you see a devious and wily woman, smiling at the prospect of a new life in a tropical paradise, paid for with the fruits of her dreadful fraud.
It crushed my world.
Of course it did.
I loved him.
He was He was a great dad.
Crushed my entire world.
'It might have appeared like I took control, but I didn't really.
' It was only ever within the confines of what he ultimately wanted.
Are you a good liar, Mrs Darwin? - I hope not.
- Well, did you convince your sons for five-and-a-half years their father was dead? - Yes.
- And the police? - Yes.
- And the coroner? So, you are telling the court, on oath, that he forged your signature? He made a footer template of it on his computer.
So any letter, any instruction to a bank or lawyer or whoever, he could write it - and it would appear to be from you? - Yes.
So, you had no idea at all? She told me it was to do with inheritance tax.
And you believed her? She was my mother.
- And was money important to him? - Yes.
- And the appearance of it? - Maybe.
And your mother? I'd always thought the opposite.
"I cannot wait to join you, my darling.
"Missing you so much.
"All my love.
"Kiss, kiss, kiss.
" Who wrote that? I did.
"Generally, I only ever take her out to vote.
" - He actually said that? - Yes.
To a friend of his in front of you? Yes.
I think he thought it was funny.
Angry, betrayed stupid.
I felt all of that.
I still do.
Every single day, I still have very negative Where was John when you roped your unwitting children into laundering money for you? He was in Panama.
My point is that he wasn't standing over you as you spoke to the bank, forcing you to commit a criminal act, was he? He didn't need to actually be in the room.
He was on the end of an email, or phone, or just in my head.
You can fight your corner, can't you? I can now.
Under immense pressure, in a public trial.
But not, apparently, at home with your non-violent husband.
You don't know what to think.
I mean, it took me a long time to even believe the photo was real, that any parent could have done such a thing.
It took me a long time to accept that.
I'm not even sure I have.
Maybe I never will.
Can I ask, why didn't you just leave him? This man you claim was an oppressive bully.
I wanted to keep the family together.
You "wanted to keep the family together"? Oh, the irony, Mrs Darwin.
And let me ask you this.
If you hadn't have picked John up from North Gare, if you'd have said to him on the phone, "Oh, I can't go through with this," or, "I'm not doing this to my boys," what were you frightened was going to happen to you for disobeying his request? - Was he going to beat you up? - No.
Were you scared that when he got home, he might manipulate you a bit? I was frightened that he might leave me.
'The jury took less than four hours to reach a verdict.
' I accept that your husband, John Darwin, was the driving force behind this deceit, but you, Anne, although perhaps initially unconvinced, went on to contribute to its success and play your part very efficiently.
In my judgment, you operated as a team, each adding something to the joint venture.
And it is the duration of the offending, its multi-faceted nature, and, in particular, the grief inflicted over the years to the real victims, your own children, that make this a case that merits a particularly severe sentence.
Anne Catherine Darwin, I sentence you to a term of six years and six months.
Take her down.
'It was three months longer than John got 'but then I was their mother.
'I think most people felt I'd got what I deserved.
' 'And so it began.
'Six years and six months, minus parole.
'I tried to keep busy.
'Keep myself distracted.
'I continued to write to the boys, never really expecting a reply.
'And John continued to write and call.
' Look, money's not going to be an issue, love.
Trust me.
Our story sells.
'And I wanted to cut him off, I really did, but it was hard.
After 35 years, and with nothing else in my life, even about a bad future felt better than none whatsoever.
Fear not.
We play our cards right, we are going to be sitting pretty.
And then eight months into my time inside, the prison chaplain suggested I speak to a counsellor because I could not rid myself of thoughts of death.
What would you like to get from these sessions? I suppose to wake up every day not hating myself would be a start.
And how do you think you could get to that place? Through my family.
My children.
By somehow showing them that this is not who I am, that I did a terrible, terrible thing, but I don't think that I'm a terrible person.
I don't expect forgiveness.
I never expected to be forgiven.
I just ask for second chance.
To show them that I could be a good mother again.
Be the person I used to be, or should have been.
Could may be even still.
And who was that? She was kind, I think.
And loving.
With conscience.
She knew right from wrong.
And she didn't want much.
A happy family, enough money to pay the bills.
A simple life.
So, how do you get back to her? I don't know.
OK, mate.
You take care.
How is he? Angry.
Laughing about it, and then crying.
Fucked up, basically.
And you? It just feels like they're both dead.
I'm not sure I can bear that.
I was never a confident person.
When I look back my first encounter with him, John was when I was 14 on the bus.
And he knocked my school hat off.
It was just a silly joke, and I'm sure he didn't mean to, but he made me feel stupid.
More stupid.
I was already very aware I wasn't academic, like him.
But maybe that set the tone, as it were.
Because he was the only boy I ever And I went straight from my parents' house to living with him after we got married, so I never knew anything but him.
How he spoke to me how he regarded me.
And I think that's been quite a thing for the last 35 years.
Anne? Hope it's good news.
Thank you.
Dear Mum, I hope you are well and not finding things too difficult.
We are all still trying to adjust to what has happened, which has not been easy.
But I would like to come and see you, so I'll send a request today.
Take care of yourself.
I'm just not there.
You don't have to apologise.
Maybe it's the baby, just knowing I could never do anything to hurt him.
But either way, I'm just not there.
Mum? We didn't even know until the trial that you'd been in on it from the start.
That when you hugged me that first night I came up you knew! I'm so sorry.
Everything we found out, you made us find out in public.
Online, newspapers.
In a bloody court room, Mam! And there is no excuse.
A reason'd help.
Why, after everything you'd done, you still kept lying.
For the same reason I ever did, Mark, just the shame.
The terrible, terrible guilt and shame I felt.
So it was about you, is it? H-How telling the truth would make YOU feel? I knew it would break your hearts, love.
No, no, no, no.
No! No! You don't - Don't you dare cry! - I'm sorry.
And I just kept thinking, hoping, praying, all along that there would be some way I could fix it before that had to happen, but there just never was.
No, you were probably too preoccupied drinking pina coladas on the beach! What did you expect? No more than what I got.
But I suppose I thought I might be left feeling a tiny scrap of hope.
And again, I know I don't deserve that, but it doesn't stop me yearning for it.
It's been so long.
Am I sorry? Well, that I got caught, yes.
Very! But seriously, of course, if what I did upset you, then yes.
Of course I'm sorry.
Tell me about the American woman.
And all the others you've been writing your shabby little letters to.
I know what should be the first step.
"Should"? Well, because whether I could actually do it not, I don't know.
And what are we talking about? Leaving him.
And why might you not be able to do that? I find the idea petrifying.
Despite all the wrongs you feel he's done you? Yes.
And what specifically is it that you're scared of? Everything.
I've never lived any part of my life on my own.
I wouldn't know how to even be, who I even am.
I mean for my entire adult life, I've just been an extension of him, really.
Or not even that, just a nothing.
And so starting again, from scratch trying to create a new me at the age of nearly 60 it makes me sick with fear, Grace.
Slightly different tack.
Does John make you happy? He has done at times in our life.
I'm not happy now, obviously, and haven't been much in the last ten years or so, but before that, yes.
But on balance? Would you say he's been good for you? He gave me two beautiful sons.
'I knew what she wanted me to say, 'but ridiculous as it might seem 'I just didn't feel strong enough to be on my own.
' He's beautiful, mate.
Must have Lou's genes.
Well, I bloody hope so.
Wouldn't want too many of our side in there.
No, fair enough.
Flick was just saying you saw her again last week.
And how was it? It's still hard.
I'm not quite sure what I'm hoping for.
I think I think I've just come to the conclusion that I'd prefer to have her in my life than not.
Dad? Harder.
I'm not sure he really gets it.
Or ever will.
So, I wrote to her yesterday.
Requested a visit.
So all I'll say just don't expect any blinding moment of forgiveness.
Cos my guess is that ain't gonna happen.
I think it's just gonna be this very long, slow accommodation.
Hello, Mam.
Hello, love.
Thank you so much coming.
I'm so pleased to see you.
Well, I couldn't not let you meet this little fella, could I? I don't know what to say.
How old is he? He's four months now.
He's beautiful.
He takes after his mother.
Who asked me to say hello and that she sends you her love.
That's incredibly kind of her.
Please send her my love and huge congratulations.
Would you like to hold him? I would, very much.
'It was an extraordinary act of generosity 'that I didn't deserve.
'And it finally gave me the strength 'to do what I had needed to do for so long.
' Hello? What the hell's going on? You've stopped writing.
Haven't been taking my calls.
Why? You don't make me happy, John.
I think you haven't for many years.
You don't hear me.
- 'You don't listen to me' - That is total rubbish, Anne.
- 'You don't know what you're' - You're not listening now.
Just stop talking, please.
Just stop always talking and listen.
But much more important than any of that, I don't think you love me, John.
I do.
I do love you, Anne, very much.
Or why would I have stayed with you for all these years? 'Don't do this.
' Don't throw 36 years and two smashing boys away.
'We can be happy again.
' I promise we can.
I don't think you do love me.
Or maybe you just don't know what proper love is.
And either way I don't love you any more.
You've hurt me too much.
- You do love me.
- 'No.
' No, I don't.
And I want a divorce.
'About eight months before my release, 'I was transferred to an open prison 'to help prepare me for my return to normal life.
'And then in March 2011, a few days shy of nine years 'since John had paddled out to sea, 'I was released to a halfway house in Leeds.
'I was finally free.
'I'm not sure I'll ever truly understand 'why I made the choices I did.
'It was, as my counsellor said, complicated.
'My children still struggle 'and will certainly never be able to forget what I did to them, 'nor should they.
'We all know we're on a journey 'that will last the rest of our lives 'but we are at least on that journey.
'And for that gift, 'I remain more grateful to them 'than it will ever be possible to express.
'They say the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference, 'which is what I now feel for my ex-husband.
'But I wish him well 'and sincerely hope that he finds happiness.
'I will try to do the same.
'I will also keep trying to find me.
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