Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan star as John and Anne Darwin in The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe / Picture Credit: ITV
Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan star as John and Anne Darwin in The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe / Picture Credit: ITV

New ITV drama The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe is such an outlandish story, you'd be forgiven for not realising it was based on something that actually happened in real life.

The TV show tells of how prison officer John Darwin went out on a canoe, failing to return home and missing his shift at work. The alarm was raised and despite a huge search operation taking place, he was presumed dead. All of this was back in March 2002 and it took until 2007, when John tried and failed to start a new life in Panama with his wife, Anne Darwin, for his scam to be unearthed.

Turning up at a London police station, he claimed to have amnesia but, when a photograph was found online of the couple in Panama taken in 2006, the police realised that the duo had put together an intricate plan so that John's life insurance money could be claimed.

Not only lying to the world, but even their two sons, the couple were both eventually convicted of fraud and sentenced. John was given six years and three months in prison, whilst Anne - described as a compulsive liar by police - was sentenced to six years and six months.

So, where are the two now?

Reaching the conclusion of her prison time, Anne decided to separate from John and claimed that she had been manipulated by her ex, only seeing the light after speaking to a psychologist.

There was even the claim that, in 2011, John sent Anne a picture of herself with a copyright symbol over the top of it. He was alleged to have been stating that she was his property, despite her wish to separate.

The two did divorce in the end, with John citing Anne's "unreasonable behaviour" as the reason.

Anne would go on to release a memoir called Out of My Depth (hilarious title, I've gotta say), before getting a job with the RSPCA after gaining qualifications during her time behind bars. Proceeds from her book sales went to the RNLI and the RSPCA.

Though her two sons, Mark and Anthony had previously disowned her, the trio are now back in a touch, with Anne being allowed to be a part of her grandchildren's lives. She's now retired, living alone in sheltered housing accommodation, in the north of England.

John meanwhile has remarried, to a woman 23 years his junior. The pair tied the knot in 2015, after he moved to Manila in the Philippines.

Don't think his life is now without its twists and turns, however. He had reportedly gone to fight against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with wife Mercy claiming that "he will have a bullet proof vest and good life insurance, good for me."

It appears this was another lie, as the 'Canoe Man' was spotted shopping in the Philippine city of Antipolo.

The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe is available to watch in full now on the ITV Hub.

RELATED: ITV announces brand new dating show The Singles' Table

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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