£500,000 seized from canoeist wife
Prosecutors have recovered more than half a million pounds from the wife of back-from-the-dead canoeist John Darwin.
Darwin, 61, faked his own death in a canoeing accident in 2002 so his wife Anne, 60, could claim hundreds of thousands of pounds from insurance policies and pension schemes.
The couple, from Seaton Carew, near Hartlepool, were jailed at Teesside Crown Court in 2008 for the swindle, which deceived the police, a coroner, financial institutions and even their sons Mark and Anthony.
A confiscation hearing in 2009 was told that the Darwins benefited to the sum of £679,194.62 from the fraud, but at that time their realisable assets amounted to just under £592,000.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it has now recovered a total of £501,641.39 from the assets that Mrs Darwin held as a result of the scam.
This figure is lower because the value of property she owned in Panama has fallen as a result of the global economic crisis.
The money will now be repaid to the insurance companies and pension funds that were defrauded.
Kingsley Hyland, head of the CPS's north-east complex casework unit, said: "It has taken some time to sell the property in Panama but we are extremely pleased to have got through the very complex process of recovering this money from overseas.
"It is important that fraudsters see that not only will we prosecute them wherever possible, but we will also make every effort to retrieve their ill-gotten gains to return them to those they have defrauded."
The assets seized from Mrs Darwin are an apartment in Panama City worth £35,648.35, land near Lake Gatun in Panama worth £155,414.47, three bank accounts in Panama containing £152,828.13, two UK bank accounts containing £157,720.91 and bank interest totalling £29.53