John and Anne Darwin’s raunchy ‘sexy beast’ emails that proved crimes and got them sent to prison


Anne Darwin may have claimed she was coerced into helping her husband fake his own death in a canoe, but a series of racy emails between the pair prove they were both planning their new future together in Panama.

The filthy exchanges came to light after Anne and husband John, the subjects of this week’s ITV drama The Thief, His Wife and the canoe, were caught and put on trial for their crimes.

John paddled out to sea in 2002 and left Anne to play the grieving widow, lying to even her own sons so that the couple could cash out his £250,000 life insurance policy.

John then hid in the bedsit next door which the pair owned, sleeping in the marital with his wife before jetting out to Cyprus and Spain to hunt for properties for them to settle down in, away from the glare of suspicion.

They eventually decided on Panama as their new home, and it was while John was waiting on his other half to join him in South America that the raunchy emails were sent.

One of the filthy messages, which was sent four days before Anne flew out to Panama, saw her bombard John with typed out kisses.

The softly spoken former doctors’ receptionist spoke of her excitement to be reunited with her hubby and said that she loved him, writing: “Bye for now. Love you, 4 days to go!!!!!!!!!”




John and Anne Darwin’s sons now – Disowning, pain and split forgiveness

There were also some rude suggestions involving, surprisingly, mosquito bites and spots.

In one email, John called Anne a “sexy beast” and boldly revealed he was naked on the balcony in the Panama flat.

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He wrote: “Well you sexy beast, I am standing out on the balcony in the nudy typing this for you. I just hope the mosquitoes or other bugs don’t bite or at least not in a certain place…don’t want it all lumpy lol.

“Lots to do at your end…must be a woman thing…your end is always busy. Anything else? Well I do still love you, even if you get ratty and stressed out.”

His messages were filled with innuendo and he started moaning about having fleas, telling Anne he wanted her to “press your spotty legs against my flea bites nd [sic] we can squash the buggers, we might even enjoy it.”

Anne sent another email to John revealing she had sold the family home in Hartlepool to fund their new life in Panama – and included smiley faces.

Anne kept everyone at home fooled about her new life by updating them on what she was up to – but, in a 3,200 word message conveniently left out the part that her supposedly ‘dead’ husband was secretly with her.



Monica Dolan as Anne Darwin and Eddie Marsan as John Darwin, in the ITV drama, The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe.

“I got up early this morning had breakfast on the terrace and then set about a bit of housework (in my bikini),” she wrote.

John was caught after returning home to the UK and claiming he had amnesia because of a visa issue in South America.

Attempting to explain away the past five years, he walked into a police station said he had memory loss but in fact was back because he needed to verify his identity using the UK police because of changes to Panama’s laws.

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The couple had bought a £200,000 tropical estate in the village of Escobal, Colón, Panama, near the Panama Canal, in 2007, where they intended to build a hotel.

But John, using the alias John Jones, then needed to get an ‘investor’s visa’, which involved getting his identity confirmed by cops at home.

In another email, Anne told her husband he was “missing” him already just hours after he left her to fly back to confront the police.




The scheme may have worked had it not been for the photo at the property agents, which saw the lying pair alongside Mario Vilar, head of the firm Move To Panama.

The police had already started a financial investigation three months before John reappeared as they had suspicions about Anne, who was taking foreign holidays and transferring large sums abroad.

The Mirror then published the snap, along with the headline ‘Canoe’s this in Panama?’.

When confronted with the picture, Anne broke down as she told reporters her life had become a “nightmare” and confessed: “Yes, that’s him. My sons will never forgive me.”

Former Daily Mirror journalist David Leigh, who found Anne in Panama after John returned to the UK in 2007, explained the photo from Panama was the evidence that brought down their lies.



John and Anne Darwin's life has been examined in the new ITV drama, The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe, and in an unearthed interview, Anne shares her regret at the lies she told, especially to her sons
John and Anne Darwin’s life has been examined in the new ITV drama, The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe, and in an unearthed interview, Anne shares her regret at the lies she told, especially to her sons

“It was emphatic proof Anne had been lying about her husband’s faked death to everyone she held dear, not to mention the police and the insurance companies.

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“It was a massive scoop and it was incredible to be such an integral part of a jaw-dropping story that was making front-page headlines day after day. But it was quite emotional watching someone’s life crumble before my eyes.

“When I showed her the image, Anne sobbed. She kept repeating, ‘What have I done? The boys are never going to forgive me’.”

John was sentenced to six years and three months in prison for admitting deception by faking his own death, while Anne received six-and-a-half years behind bars for fraud.

They last communicated when they were in prison but Anne ended their relationship once and for all, prompting John to divorce her on the grounds of ‘unreasonable behaviour’.

John was released in 2011 after serving half his sentence, while Anne got out of prison two months later.

In 2015, John married Mercidita, otherwise known as Mercy, who is 23 years his junior in her native home of the Philippines.

He now lives off her money, and his UK state pension of around £134 a week, while helping flog his market trader wife’s £4.35 a time undies and T-shirts in a giant indoor market.

In 2016, it was reported that John was forced to spend most of his time in the cramped room he called home because of his allergies.

“It is the dust and dirt – he is allergic to it,” his then landlady Daisy Lavapiez told the Sunday Mirror.

“He is nearly always upstairs in his room because of the air quality here, unless he is helping Mercy at the market. I feel sorry for him sometimes as he does not have a lot of friends.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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