Page last updated at 11:48 GMT, Thursday, 6 December 2007

Canoeist photo genuine, says wife

John Darwin
The wreckage of John Darwin's canoe was found in March 2002

The wife of a canoeist missing for five years has admitted to newspapers a photo of her and her husband taken last year in Panama is genuine.

John Darwin's wife, Anne, reportedly described her life as a nightmare and said: "None of this seems real."

Mr Darwin, 57, was presumed dead after going missing off Hartlepool in 2002, but reappeared in London on Saturday.

He was arrested by Cleveland Police on suspicion of fraud and was declared medically fit to face questioning.

The Daily Mirror newspaper published a photo which apparently showed the Darwins pictured in an apartment in Panama last year.

My sons will never forgive me
Anne Darwin

His wife Anne, 55, told the paper: "Yes, that's him. My sons will never forgive me.

"They knew nothing. They thought John was dead. Now they are going to hate me."

Asked if she had believed her husband had died when he disappeared in 2002, she said: "Yes, I did. And that was the nightmare I lived through."

Mr Darwin has now been taken to a police station on Teesside for questioning.

Cleveland Police said the photo of the pair would be examined as part of their investigation into the case.

Mr Darwin's canoe was found in pieces the day after his disappearance, leading to the assumption he had drowned.

John Darwin arrest
John Darwin was arrested at his son's home

But he walked into a police station in London on Saturday and told officers: "I think I am a missing person."

He claimed he could remember nothing since 2000.

Mrs Darwin sold the family home in Seaton Carew, near Hartlepool and moved to Panama six weeks ago.

The BBC's correspondent in Panama, Andy Gallagher, said the apartment she bought was currently empty and she was believed to be staying in a nearby hotel.

He said reporters from Panama news stations were camped outside the small flat, as the revelations about the Darwins had sparked worldwide interest and a frantic search for Mrs Darwin.

Mr Darwin was reunited with his two sons and arrested by police at the home of one of them in Hampshire late on Tuesday, before being driven to the North East.

Certainly three months ago we did not know that John Darwin was alive, and we did not know that until he walked into the police station on Saturday morning
Det Supt Tony Hutchinson

He covered his head with a newspaper as he arrived at the police station, flanked by two officers just before 2330 GMT on Wednesday night.

He was due to undergo a medical examination before being questioned later.

Police revealed earlier in the day that new information had caused them to reopen the case in September.

The detective leading the case also said police may question Mrs Darwin.

Det Supt Tony Hutchinson revealed the case had been reopened earlier in the year at a news conference on Wednesday.

He said: "There was some information which was reported to us three months ago to suggest that perhaps there was something suspicious with regards to his disappearance, and as a result of that information we then began to conduct some inquiries on a financial basis.

"Certainly three months ago we did not know that John Darwin was alive, and we did not know that until he walked into the police station on Saturday morning."



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