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British police get more time to quiz canoeist

Detectives have been given more time to question "back from the dead" canoeist John Darwin, police said on Friday.
/ Source: Reuters

Detectives have been given more time to question "back from the dead" canoeist John Darwin, police said on Friday.

Magistrates granted Cleveland Police an extra 36 hours to question Darwin, 57, on suspicion of fraud.

Officers also plan to question his wife Anne, 55, when she returns to Britain from Central America.

She is widely reported to be flying home from Panama after telling reporters that she has been "living a lie" and fears her children will never forgive her.

'I hate lying'
Former prison officer John Darwin vanished in March 2002 from his home in northeast England. Newspaper reports said his life insurance and work benefits had been paid to his wife.

"We do not know of her whereabouts," a Cleveland Police spokeswoman said. "If and when Mrs. Darwin does appear in the U.K., then police want to speak to her as a matter of urgency."

In an interview with Friday's Daily Mirror, his wife said: "I have been living my life as a lie, constantly looking over my shoulder. What have I done? I hate lying, I'm not a dishonest person. I really am so sorry."

She apologized to her sons, Anthony and Mark, after they said they felt they had been the victims of "a large scam."

"Who can blame them? How can they ever forgive me for what I've done," she was quoted as saying in the Mirror.

Declared dead
British media said she sold two properties and left for Central America with  450,000 sterling (nearly $1 million) shortly before her husband's shock reappearance this month, when he walked into a London police station and said: "I believe I am a missing person."

Earlier this week, the Mirror published a photo which apparently showed her with her "dead" husband in a Panama apartment last year.

She said her husband has not been in Panama for the entire past five years, but admits the couple rented a villa for a brief stay and that's when a real estate agent took their photo.

The mystery began in 2002 when Anne Darwin reported her husband missing. She said she feared he had suffered an accident while kayaking in the North Sea near their home in Hartlepool, Cleveland.

A few weeks later the shattered remains of his red kayak were discovered. In 2003, following a police inquiry, a coroner declared him dead.