Family of dead baby used in John Darwin’s fraud still waiting for apology more than decade later

Alf Jones, brother of the 'stolen baby identity' in the John Darwin case.
Alf Jones, brother of the 'stolen baby identity' in the John Darwin case.
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The family of a baby boy whose details were used by canoe conman John Darwin to create a fake identity say they are still waiting for an apology a decade on.

John Jones died just 34 days after he was born in St Patrick’s Garth in Hendon, Sunderland, in 1950, due to a stomach problem and is buried in Grangetown Cemetery.

John Darwin leaving Teesside Crown Court. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

John Darwin leaving Teesside Crown Court. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

Then in 2004, his birth certificate was used by Darwin to apply for a passport - a technique used in the Frederick Forsyth novel The Day of the Jackal.

It was after Darwin’s reappearance 10 years ago today that the Jones family then became embroiled in the case as police pieced together how the ex-prison officer and his wife Anne had tricked their way into cashing in on insurance policies.

Their scams caught up with them and Darwin re-emerged, walking into a London police station claiming to have no memory of the last five years, having gone “missing” as he canoed off Seaton Carew in March 2002.

The surviving Jones siblings - five brothers and two sisters - had no knowledge of how their infant brother’s information had been used until Alfie, now 60, was contacted by a detective constable from Cleveland Police and asked to gather the family together for a meeting.

He has never been man enough to give us an apology.

Alfie Jones

The knowledge that John’s details had been used to commit crime hit the family hard, but in time turned Alfie into a campaigner as he calls for a change in procedure so that others will not face the same heartache.

Alfie, who lives in Hendon, said: “He has never been man enough to give us an apology.

“He’s said sorry to the RNLI for wasting their time, sorry to his family.

“He’s never said sorry to us, the Jones Family, and that is hard for us.

Alf Jones and Freda Woods with copies of their late brother John Jones' birth certificate and a suggestion as to what it should look like if records were changed to show that someone had died.

Alf Jones and Freda Woods with copies of their late brother John Jones' birth certificate and a suggestion as to what it should look like if records were changed to show that someone had died.

“My parents died before this happened but I do think about how this would have had an impact on them, they would have been in their 80s or 90s if they were still alive, and I wonder how they would have taken it.

“I’m pleased they weren’t here to find out, I think it would have been so difficult for them.

“Sometimes I still watch the YouTube video of him being interviewed in a police station when he talks about creating an identity and he says he chose that one because it wouldn’t hurt anybody, but he did.

“Did he not realise there could be us seven still alive, who would be affected by this?”

John Darwin passport picture.

John Darwin passport picture.

After Dawin’s release from prison, Alfie made several attempts to confront and contact him to seek the apology he feels he needs for closure.

He called at the terrace home where the fraudster was living in Easington Colliery, penned a letter asking for his contrition and tried to speak to him at Teesside Crown Court.

His efforts led to police asking him to keep his distance after he was told Darwin claimed he was being harassed.

But to Alfie, the situation will never be resolved until that sorry is delivered and truly heartfelt - and the loophole is closed to stop others from creating fake identities.

Alfie, who along with his brothers and sisters lost sister Mary to cancer aged 38, said: “At the time, in 2007, I had heard about what had happened through the papers, that this man had come back from the dead, and I work in the building trade, so it came up in conversation as we worked and we all thought ‘what an idiot’.

“Never in my life did I think it would have anything to do with us.

“Then I got a phone call from the police, a detective constable from Cleveland Police, asking if we had a brother called John Jones and to get the family together, so I got all seven of us still alive to meet him.

“From there it was explained what he had done and we just couldn’t believe it.”

“It’s been with us ever since.”