A woman accused of taking part in an insurance scam by falsely claiming her husband had died asked her sons to forgive her on Tuesday and to visit her in jail.
“She has had no contact with the family so far,” attorney Nicola Finnerty said on behalf of her jailed client, Anne Darwin, 55. “She’s so sorry for any stress she may have caused. The most upsetting aspect of this whole thing has been the effect this has had on her sons.”
Finnerty spoke after a court said Tuesday that Anne Darwin must remain in jail on charges of illegally obtaining tens of thousands of dollars after her husband, John Darwin, 57, was officially declared dead in a canoeing accident in the North Sea.
The ruling by the Hartlepool Magistrates Court means that Anne Darwin and her husband will both stay in their jails until Friday, when each will appear by video link at court hearings in their fraud case.
John Darwin disappeared off the coast in front of his home in Seaton Carew in northeast England and was presumed dead after his wrecked canoe was found in 2002.
On Dec. 1, he suddenly turned up at a London police station, claiming to have amnesia.
Anne Darwin was arrested Sunday on suspicion of fraud moments after she arrived on a flight from Atlanta, Georgia. She had recently moved to Panama after selling the couple’s seven-bedroom home.
Prosecutors have charged her with using deception in 2003 to obtain separate money transfers worth 25,000 pounds and 137,515 pounds, police said Monday. The total would be equivalent now to about $330,000. She has not yet entered a plea.
Finnerty said her client broke down during her interrogation by police about how her husband allegedly hid for five years.
“It has been a very emotional and distressing time for her,” the London-based attorney said. “She has been crying in interviews, but she is cooperating fully with the police and has given a full account.”
Sons thought father was dead
The Darwins’ sons — Anthony, 29, and Mark, 31 — say they believed their father was dead.
They have said they want no further contact with their parents, and Anne Darwin has been quoted by the British media as saying: “Who can blame them? I lied to them — my own sons. What sort of mother am I?”
Talking to reporters Tuesday, Finnerty appealed to the sons on her client’s behalf, saying: “If they want to make contact, she would love to hear from them and really wants to see them.”
John Darwin, a former prison officer, appeared in court on Monday and did not enter a plea on the two charges he faces: dishonestly obtaining an insurance claim of 25,000 pounds in May 2003 by falsely claiming he had been killed, and obtaining a passport under a false name in October 2003.
During Tuesday’s bail hearing, magistrates appeared to accept an argument by prosecutor Philip Morley that it would be risky to release Anne Darwin from jail because she could return to Panama while still having access to offshore bank accounts. She looked confused and said little during the hearing, only confirming her name and age.
Meanwhile, John Darwin’s lawyer, John Nixon, said that his client “is desperate to see his wife, to be reunited with her. ... It is their wedding anniversary in 10 days.”
British newspapers have quoted Anne Darwin as saying that she and her husband had tens of thousands of pounds in debts when he disappeared five years ago.
“To John and Anne Darwin, we are talking about a huge amount of money,” Deputy Superintendent Tony Hutchinson of Cleveland police said on Monday. “Whilst they may have taken some risks, they have been fairly successful for five years.”