HARTLEPOOL, England – The wife of a man accused of faking his own death in an insurance scam was ordered Tuesday to remain in jail on charges of illegally obtaining tens of thousands of dollars after he was officially declared dead.
The ruling by the Hartlepool Magistrates Court means that Anne Darwin, 55, and her husband, John Darwin, 57, will both stay in jail until Friday, when each will appear by video link at separate court hearings in their case.
John Darwin had disappeared from his home in Hartlepool in northeast England and was presumed dead after his wrecked canoe was found in 2002.
He turned up at a London police station on Dec. 1, saying he had 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 in northeast England.
Anne Darwin has been charged with using deception in 2003 to obtain separate money transfers for 25,000 pounds and 137,000 pounds, police said Monday. The total would be equivalent now to about $330,000. She was charged after detectives questioned her about how her husband allegedly hid himself for five years.
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, Hartlepool 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.
Police have urged the public to help detectives determine John Darwin's whereabouts for the past five years. On Monday, police released a photo of him during that time, showing him with long hair and a beard.
His lawyer, John Nixon, told reporters that his client was in good shape and holding up.
"He is desperate to see his wife, to be reunited with her," Nixon said. "He is anxious to know about her well-being. 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 dollars 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 of the alleged insurance scam.
"Whilst they may have taken some risks, they have been fairly successful for five years," Hutchinson said Monday.