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'Canoe Man' Ordered To Pay Back Pension Cash
A man convicted of conning insurance companies out of hundreds of thousands of pounds by faking his own death has been ordered to hand over £40,000 from two pensions that have now matured.
John Darwin, who was reported missing in a canoe in the North Sea in March 2002, was given the order during a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing at Teesside Crown Court, the same court where the 63-year-old was jailed for fraud in 2008.
The pensions were earned from his time as a teacher and a prison officer.
A judge previously ordered a repayment of†£679,073 but Darwin, who is now unemployed, living in Seaton Carew, near Hartlepool, and claiming benefits, has so far only repaid £122.
After the hearing, prosecutor Jolyon Perks said Darwin might face further applications should he come into more money in the future.
"We believe it sends a strong signal to those who seek to benefit from their criminal conduct that these orders have teeth," he said.
"They will be pursued and they will be rigorously enforced.
"The Proceeds of Crime Act is intended to be draconian."
Darwin's wife, Anne, from whom he is now divorced, has repaid more than £500,000 under a separate Proceeds of Crime order.
She had collected a similar amount in life insurance cash paid out over her husband's alleged death while he hid in their home.
The couple's two sons were left believing their father had died.
He was reunited with them after walking into a police station in London in December 2007 and claiming he had no recollection of what had happened.
His wife, who had run away with him to Panama, pretended she, too, was amazed at his reappearance until a photograph turned up of them posing together after his supposed death.
She was later jailed for more than six years for fraud and money laundering.