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Last Updated: Friday, 7 December 2007, 18:35 GMT
Extra time to question canoeist
John Darwin's death certificate records his death at sea in 2002

Police have been given a further 36 hours to question canoeist John Darwin, who was believed to have drowned at sea in 2002, on suspicion of fraud.

Detectives say the 57-year-old, who reappeared last weekend, has been "putting forward some sort of account" of his actions.

Magistrates in Hartlepool, Teesside, granted the order for Mr Darwin's continued detention.

Cleveland Police also want to speak to his wife Anne, 55, said to be in Miami.

On Wednesday, a photo emerged showing Mr and Mrs Darwin together in the central American state of Panama in 2006.

Mrs Darwin admitted to newspapers that the picture was genuine, but said she had acted in good faith when cashing in her husband's life insurance after he was declared dead by a coroner in 2003.


Mr Darwin walked into a London police station on 1 December, more than five years after going missing off Seaton Carew, near Hartlepool, in March 2002, in what was believed to be a canoeing tragedy.

Under the current extension, Mr Darwin can be held in custody until late on Saturday night. Officers can then apply for an additional 24 hours, after which time they must charge or release him.

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

Chief Inspector Andy Greenwood, said on Friday that Mr Darwin had been "giving some sort of explanation" of his actions during police questioning.

He said the police had received calls from North and South America, mainland Europe and "all over the world" in response to his appeal for information about Mr Darwin.

Cleveland Police have also said they want to speak to an angler who told the Sun newspaper he had met Mr Darwin while fishing in Cornwall 18 months ago.

Ch Insp Greenwood would not confirm whether Mrs Darwin was being treated as a witness or a suspect at this stage.

He said: "If Anne would like to speak to me then I would certainly be keen to speak to her. I'm certainly not going to be chasing Mrs Darwin round the country."

'Large scam'

Mrs Darwin is quoted in both the Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail as saying she has been living her life "as a lie, constantly looking over my shoulder".

John Darwin at Hartlepool Magistrates' Court

"I was never totally relaxed: always on edge and knowing the truth could come out at any time," she is reported to have told journalists.

The couple's sons, Anthony and Mark, who both recently left their jobs, have said they want nothing more to do with their mother or father.

They insist they did not know their father was alive and say they are furious at being made the victims of what they describe as a "large scam".

In a statement released through Cleveland Police, they said: "How could our mam continue to let us believe our dad had died when he was very much alive?"

She is quoted in newspapers as begging her sons to forgive her, saying: "What kind of a mother am I?"

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

A neighbour of the Darwins in Panama City, Patricia Centella de Lopez, told the BBC that Mr Darwin had arrived in July.

The Daily Mirror says Mrs Darwin would not say exactly when she found out her husband was still alive, but the paper quotes her as saying the reason her husband travelled back to the UK may have been because he missed his sons.

She is reported to have said that it was a joint decision to go to Panama and when she arrived there, her husband was waiting for her.

Cleveland police on the interview process

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