British Wife Accused of Plotting Insurance Fraud with ‘Dead’ Husband

July 16, 2008

The wife of a British man who faked his own death played a crucial role in his attempt to fool officials, defraud insurance companies and even deceive their own children, a prosecutor said this week.

Anne Darwin was a full partner in husband John’s plot to stage his own death and collect on his insurance and pension, Andrew Robertson told Teesside Crown Court in northern England. Anne Darwin has pleaded not guilty to 15 charges of deception and using criminal property.

John Darwin drew worldwide attention in December when he turned himself in to police in London and claimed to be suffering from amnesia — five years after he was thought to have drowned in front of his home in Seaton Carew, 260 miles north of London.

But his bizarre “back from the dead” story fell apart as reports came out alleging that the couple had been in contact — and had been trying to set up a new life in Panama. John Darwin admitted to deception and fraud, but his wife has maintained her innocence.

Before her arrest, she was quoted as saying she was pressured by her husband to keep his fakery a secret. Robertson said Anne knew the plan all along.

“The initial idea may well have been John Darwin’s rather than Anne’s but, in the (prosecution’s) submission, it was a scheme in which Anne Darwin not only played an equal and vital role but it was a role which she played with superb aplomb,” Robertson said.

“It was obviously going to require a considerable amount of guile, convincing pretense, persistence and guts on the part of Anne Darwin to see it through …. Her nerve did not fail her, and it is clear in our submission that at no stage in the ensuing 51/2 years before this fraud came to light did Anne Darwin’s nerve ever fail her.”

Robertson said she even managed to convince her own sons that their father had died.

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