CANOE conman John Darwin has claimed he did not deserve his jail sentence.
The former teacher and prison officer stole the identity of dead Sunderland baby John Jones to flee the country and start a new life, after faking his own death and claiming life assurance cash with wife Anne.
Darwin was released from Moorland Open Prison, South Yorkshire, half-way through his six-years-and-three-month jail sentence earlier this year.
Now living back in Seaton Carew, after a spell in Easington Colliery, the 61-year-old remains bitter at being caged for so long and questioned the judicial system.
“I committed a crime, yes,” he said.
“I took money from an insurance company, but I didn’t kill anyone.
“A man committed manslaughter and got 18 months.He was out in nine.”
Darwin now claims to be penniless and living on benefits in a rented house, with only a sunlounger for a bed.
He said how “desperate” times led him to concoct the scam, which saw him spend five years with the stolen identity, after he pushed a canoe out to sea and “never returned”.
In December 2007, for reasons that are still unclear, Darwin walked into a London police station claiming to have no memory of the last five years.
Days later a picture of John and Anne with an estate agent in Panama appeared on the internet and their dream world began to collapse around them.
He revealed he is at a loss as to why his ex-wife Anne – a former Blackhall Colliery beauty queen and Durham City medical receptionist – never admitted her part in the crime.
She was released from Askham Grange Prison, near York, after serving just over two years and eight months – half of her six-and-a-half year sentence.
“For the amount of money which was taken, we should have served no more than two years,” said Darwin.
“Anne denied everything. It could have all gone ahead so much quicker than it did.
“We were married for 39 years, but if she walked past me in the street now she wouldn’t even say hello.
“She isn’t living in the area now. We aren’t in contact with each other.”
When asked who came up with the original idea, he replied: “It takes two.”
Darwin says he never expected his case to become the media circus it did.
He also even claims his phone may have been hacked in the aftermath of walking into the police station and claiming a complete blank in his memory.
“I used to hear clicking when I picked my phone up.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if it was hacked.”
Twitter: @sunderland echo