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Page last updated at 02:19 GMT, Friday, 7 December 2007

Panama 'dream' ends in media glare

By Andy Gallacher
BBC News, Panama City

For the last three days I have been camped outside the small apartment in Panama City that Anne Darwin bought just six weeks ago, and I have not been alone.

Journalists outside building in Panama City where Anne Darwin is thought to live
Mrs Darwin is said to have bought a city apartment six weeks ago

News crews from Panama have also been there as the story of John Darwin, the man who was declared dead five years ago, grips the world.

It is what people call a 'water cooler moment', one of those stories that gets people talking, no matter where you are from or what language you speak.

Neighbour's tale

Mrs Darwin has been keeping a very low profile here, she has not been seen in her small apartment and there are now reports that she may be heading back to the UK.

She has always made it clear that she would go back to Britain at the first opportunity, a trip that now will have a far bigger impact given newspaper reports over a photograph apparently showing her and her husband John, here in the city last year.


According to the reports she has now admitted the picture is genuine and is quoted as saying her life is now a nightmare.

It could be a nightmare that will only get worse in the following days.

John Darwin is now being held by police in the North East of England and the couple's sons have released a statement voicing their disappointment and shock at the revelations that their father has been alive all these years.

A neighbour in the small residential block in the heart of Panama City, has also told the BBC that John Darwin moved here last year.

She went on to say that the couple were looking for a farm to buy, a dream that may now never unfold.

Expat life

The story of the Darwins has taken many twists and turns in the past 24 hours and it has all been followed closely here.

Panama is a popular destination for expats; there is a community of around 6,000 Britons here drawn by the warm climate and cheap living.

But all eyes are now on Anne Darwin's return to the UK and what will happen in this bizarre case.

One can only imagine the scenes as she touches down in Britain, undoubtedly to be greeted by a hungry press eager for more answers.

Just a couple of days ago all the 55-year-old would say is that she took her husbands life insurance money in "good faith" and that she was as shocked as everyone else when he turned up alive and well.

There is little doubt that as more and more intriguing details emerge the Darwin family will remain firmly in the media's glare.

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