Page last updated at 13:09 GMT, Tuesday, 12 August 2008 14:09 UK

Canoeist wife launches appeal bid

Anne and John Darwin
The Darwins conned their sons, friends, police and insurers

Anne Darwin, the wife of canoeist John Darwin, has lodged an appeal against her conviction and sentence for fraud and money laundering.

The 56-year-old was found guilty of 15 charges after a seven-day trial at Teesside Crown Court last month.

She was jailed for six-and-a-half years while her husband, who admitted deception, was jailed for six years.

If her appeal is given the go-ahead, Anne Darwin's case will be heard at the Court of Appeal.

John Darwin vanished while canoeing in the sea off Seaton Carew, near Hartlepool, in 2002.

The 57-year-old reappeared at a London police station in December last year claiming he had lost his memory.

But he and his wife were later convicted of a 250,000 fraud, in which they conned sons Mark and Anthony, friends, police and insurance companies into believing Mr Darwin drowned.

Mark Darwin (left) and Anthony Darwin
The Darwins' sons were the real victims, said the judge

Anne Darwin kept her husband hidden in the marital home, while her husband acquired a false identity under the assumed name "John Jones".

He later travelled to Panama, where they planned to start a new life together.

The scam was prompted by the Darwins' financial difficulties, including repayments on a dozen properties and credit card debts of more than 60,000.

Anne Darwin said that her "domineering" husband forced her to go through with the plan to con insurance and pension companies.

But her claims were rejected by trial judge Mr Justice Wilkie, who told the Darwins their sons' lives were "crushed" by the deception, and that meant a severe sentence was needed.

The judge said Anthony and Mark Darwin had been the "real victims".

She was convicted of six counts of fraud and nine of money laundering.

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