LONDON – The sons of a British man who faked his own death cannot forgive their parents for making them believe their father drowned in a canoeing accident, two newspapers reported Sunday.
In interviews in the Sunday Mirror and The Mail on Sunday, Mark and Anthony Darwin described how their anguish and heartbreak turned to anger and hate as they realized they were lied to for years.
"They have tarnished all the good times that came before. I can't ever forgive them for putting us through the torture of mourning," Andrew was quoted as saying. "They were in it together and they deserve the sentences handed down by the judge."
John and Anne Darwin were jailed for more than six years Wednesday after a court found them guilty of staging John's 2002 disappearance in a plot to clear their debts by collecting on his insurance and pension.
John resurfaced at a London police station in December 2007 claiming amnesia, but his story unraveled when it became clear he had been in contact with his wife and that they had been trying to set up a new life in Latin America.
Mark described rushing to his family home when he found out his father was missing to find his mother "sobbing uncontrollably" and struggling to breathe as helicopters combed the nearby coast looking for her husband.
"She said, 'I think I've lost him, he's gone,"' Mark said.
He and his brother stayed with their apparently devastated mother for three weeks to take care of her — and neither suspected a thing.
"I would have bet my left leg nothing funny was going on," Anthony was quoted as saying. "It was the most horrendous, tense and sad situation. It could not have felt more real. I totally believed he was dead, my heart was broken. My dad was gone."
However soon after they left, John moved in with Anne, living in a secret room in an apartment next door to the family home in Seaton Carew, 260 miles (420 kilometers) north of London.
The sons say they went home frequently to check up on their mother.
"We did once spot dad's angina medication in a cupboard about a year after," Mark was quoted as saying. "She said she forgot to get rid of it."
Anne managed to keep up the pretense of a grieving widow for more than five years — even as she planned to move with her husband to Panama, her sons said.
Mark said he hated his parents for their deception.
"With hindsight, she was such an accomplished liar, she deserves an Oscar really, she never tripped up," Mark was quoted as saying.