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Canoe man ordered to pay £40,000

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John Darwin, the man who faked his own death in a canoe accident in order to claim life insurance was ordered to pay a £40,000 lump sum over to the authorities after two of his pensions matured.

John Darwin was reported missing in a canoe in the North Sea in March 2002. His wife collected more than £500,000 in life insurance payouts, leaving their two sons to believe he was dead. In December 2007, Darwin walked into a police station, claiming he had amnesia and was reunited with his sons who were stunned to hear he was alive. His wife, who had fled with him to Panama, pretended to be shocked until a photograph emerged of them posing together after his supposed death.

The couple were both jailed for fraud after it emerged that they had made a false claim on Darwin's life insurance even though he was still alive and living in Panama.

Teeside Crown Court heard that Darwin, 63, from Hartlepool, had so far repaid just £121 of the £679,073.62 he gained from the crime. However, after two private pensions matured, Teesside Crown Court ruled that he would have to hand over thousands of pounds to the Crown. Darwin did not challenge the application by the Crown to have the money removed from his bank accounts.

Although the pensions were legitimately earned by Darwin during his work as a teacher and a prison officer, officials were still granted access to them in order to pay off the money he owes to the State. Anne Darwin has repaid more than £500,000 under a separate order, and still owes another £177,000.

This case highlights that the court may order recalculation of the available amount even where defendants have acquired assets through entirely legitimate means and regardless of the passage of time which may have elapsed since the original confiscation order was made.

By Priscilla Addo-Quaye, serious fraud solicitor

If you are facing confiscation proceedings it is vital that you seek specialist advice. Our team at Stephensons has expertise in all areas pertaining to confiscation proceedings and financial asset recovery.