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  • Hodder & Stoughton

The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe

David Leigh

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True crime

The extraordinary and compelling story of how John Darwin faked his own death to avoid bankruptcy, and the disastrous events that followed. Adapted for an upcoming ITV drama.

Soon to be a primetime ITV Drama.

The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe tells the astonishing behind-the-scenes drama of the incredible story of Canoe Man John Darwin and his wife Anne. John faked his death at sea in a red canoe rather than face the ignominy of the bankruptcy that was beating at his door. Former Fleet Street journalist Leigh tracked down Anne Darwin at the couple's new home in Panama where she and her 'dead' husband had planned to start a secret new life together.

When their guilt was exposed Anne Darwin agreed to fly back to England with Leigh and turn herself in to Cleveland Police. The runaway train of deceit and guilt which unfolded during an eight-day trial ultimately led to the seemingly most ordinary of couples from the bucket-and-spade town of Seaton Carew, in the north east of England, being jailed for more than six years on a string of money laundering and deception charges. Most shocking of all was the fact that Anne had lied about her husband's 'death' to the couple's own two grown-up sons for five and a half years.


The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe is the definitive account of an audacious story that at times beggars belief. An objective third person account of a story that has already gone down in English criminal folklore as one of the most outrageous fraud crimes of the century.

For fans of classic true crime stories and ITV Dramas such as Quiz, Des, Manhunt and The Pembrokeshire Murders.

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