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Report: Wife knew kayaker was alive

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Written on 11:03 PM by yahoo

LONDON, England (CNN) -- The wife of a British man who reappeared five years after he was thought to have drowned in a kayaking accident knew he had been alive all along, British media reported Thursday.

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Darwin was arrested late Tuesday in the southern English county of Hampshire.


John Darwin, 57, was arrested on suspicion of fraud late Tuesday after showing up at a central London police station on Saturday claiming he was suffering amnesia.

Darwin was presumed to have died in 2002 after the remains of a kayak he paddled into the North Sea off the coast of Seaton Carew in northeastern England washed up on shore.

British tabloid newspaper the Daily Mirror published a photograph that it claimed showed Darwin on holiday in Panama City last year with his wife, Anne.

His wife, who claimed Wednesday not to have seen her husband since he went missing, moved to the Panamanian capital six weeks ago, according to British media reports.

But in its Thursday editions, the Daily Mirror reported that Anne Darwin broke down crying when she was shown the photograph -- which has a date stamp of July 14, 2006.

"My sons are never going to forgive me," the paper quoted Mrs. Darwin as saying to a reporter at her home in Panama.

"They are going to hate me."

The paper said she would not say how often or when her husband made contact with her after his supposed disappearance, but that she acknowledged they had spent time together in Panama, including a number of short vacations there.

The manager of a holiday firm in Panama said the couple rented a room in the Panamanian capital and agreed to pose for the picture for the company's Web site, the Daily Mirror reported.

Police are investigating the authenticity of the photo.

In an appeal for public help, Detective Superintendent of the Cleveland Police, Tony Hutchinson, said: "There will be people out there who know exactly where he has been, what he has been doing and where he has been living."

Hutchinson said police reopened the investigation into the disappearance three months ago, when information about Darwin's finances came to light.


"One side is that he has suffered amnesia, but the other side is that some criminal case has occurred," he said.

Darwin, a prison officer and former teacher, was declared dead by a coroner in 2003, 13 months after he went missing. A massive air and sea rescue operation was launched in March 2002 and within 24 hours, his kayak paddle was recovered by police near the area where he was thought to have gone missing.

Two months later the remains of his kayak washed up on the coast.

Hutchinson said there had been one alleged sighting of Darwin in his hometown in 2005.

According to widespread media reports, Darwin told police that he did not remember where he had been for the last five years.

Following his reappearance, Darwin was reunited with his two sons, Mark, 31, and Anthony, 29, who released a joint statement saying their father claimed to have no memory of the last seven years.

"We have spoken with John and he appears to be in good health, however he currently has no memory of events since June 2000," his sons said in the statement.

The sons said the reappearance of their father was "a huge shock."

Anne Darwin said she collected life insurance payouts on her husband and sold the couple's family properties for 400,000 pounds (US$820,000), the newspaper reported Wednesday.

Darwin's 90-year-old father, Ron, said the last time he saw his son was just a few days before he went missing, reported his local newspaper, the Hartlepool Mail.


"The people were in to put in a television and he was round for a chat, but the house was full. He said 'tell you what dad, see you later,' and I said 'cheerio' and that was the last time I saw him," the newspaper reported the father as saying.

His father said he was looking forward to seeing his son and giving him "a nice hug and kiss."

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