Canoe Con Man, Wife Get 6 Years for Fake Death

Jury didn't buy her 'coercion' defense in insurance scam
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2008 11:30 AM CDT
Anne Darwin and her husband John are seen in this combination file photo.   (AP Photo/PA)
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(Newser) – John Darwin didn’t force his wife to help fake his death, a jury ruled today, convicting Anne Darwin on 15 counts of deception and money laundering before the two were each sentenced to 6 years in prison for their $500,000 insurance scheme. Anne’s “marital coercion” defense, which posited that the “canoe man” had been a domineering bully, fell apart when the prosecution showed the couple’s loving and flirtatious emails.

For the coercion angle to hold true, John would have had to been present at each crime, the jury decided. Instead, Anne worked independently, convincing insurers, a coroner, and her own sons that John was dead. These were not the actions of a “shrinking violet,” the prosecution argued. “Anne Darwin not only played an equal and vital role—but it was a role she played with superb aplomb.” John admitted his role in the scam.