Sunderland family urge Darwin: ‘Come and say you’re sorry’

John Darwin
John Darwin
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BACK-from-the-dead canoeist John Darwin has been challenged to visit Sunderland to explain his crimes.

The Jones family – innocently dragged into the swindler’s case when Darwin stole their dead baby, John’s, identity – today spoke out after Darwin was released from prison on licence and is reportedly staying with a friend in Easington.

The 60-year-old former prison officer faked his own death in a canoeing accident in 2002 and travelled to Panama so that his wife Anne could claim on his life assurance.

Part of the 60-year-old’s fraud – which came to light five years later – included stealing the identity of John Jones from Sunderland to get a passport.

Darwin was jailed for six years and three months on seven charges of deception.

The real John Jones was born at St Patrick’s Garth, in the East End, on March 27, 1950, the first of nine children to Alfred and Lily Jones. He died just 34-days-old and was buried at Sunderland Cemetery in Grangetown.

Seven of his siblings are still alive and they still want answers from Darwin, having been refused permission to visit him in prison.

Alf Jones, from Pallion, said: “I don’t feel any different to when I found out what he had done in 2007. I want him to come to Sunderland and tell us why he took our John’s name.

“And why he made that statement in the police station in London, that he picked that particular name because he didn’t want to hurt anybody.

“But there are seven of us still alive.

“He apologised to the RNLI, the police, the coroner and his two boys. Yet he has never apologised to our family for the hurt he caused us.”

Mr Jones, 53, who has campaigned for tighter controls on sales of birth certificates, said he intends to one day stand in front of Darwin, wherever he goes after release, to get the answers the Wearside family needs.

He has also vowed to prevent the fraudster and his now estranged wife from profiting from their scam through book or film deals.

Anne Darwin, who was a receptionist at Gilesgate Medical Centre, Durham City, was jailed for six-and-a-half years for six counts of fraud and nine of money laundering.

Darwin’s aunt Margaret Burns said she hoped he would not return to the area.

Speaking at her retirement bungalow in Blackhall Colliery, she said: “Everybody’s been asking me what I expect to say to John when I see him walk up my drive – but I have not heard from him nor seen him for 40 years so I don’t expect that day to come any time soon.

“He should keep himself to himself and not ruin any other people’s lives.”

Cleveland Police said they would take steps to ensure that Darwin does not cash in on his infamy.

A spokeswoman said: “Should Mr Darwin be seen to benefit from his activity then the option is there for Cleveland Police to revisit his case and reassess his assets, which could then be seized.

“We can also confirm that some of the money has been recovered and efforts are ongoing with other agencies to try to recover the remainder.”