British Man Presumed Dead for 5 Years Arrested for Fraud

The man who was believed to have died in a canoe accident more than five years ago has been arrested on suspicion of fraud, police have confirmed.

Investigators have said a picture reportedly showing John Darwin and his wife Anne in Panama last year has "raised a lot of questions."

Anne Darwin, who cashed in her husband's life insurance policy after he was declared dead in 2003, has spoken of her shock at his return.

Click here for photos.

But, a photo from relocation company Move To Panama reportedly shows a photo of the couple taken in the central American country on July 14, 2006.

A couple, believed to be John and Anne Darwin, are posing next to an official from the company.

The man leading the inquiry, detective superintendent Tony Hutchinson, said efforts will be made to confirm the validity of the picture.

Hutchinson said that three months ago the force received financial information linked to the disappearance.

But he insisted he was surprised to hear the missing man was alive.

Detectives will also look at the possibility of extraditing Mrs Darwin.

John Darwin, a former prison officer, walked into a central London police on Saturday declaring: "I think I'm a missing person."

But the 57-year-old has since been arrested after suspicions over his disappearance in Hartlepool - his canoe and paddle were found in the sea days after he vanished.

John Darwin was taken into custody last night from his son's house in Basingstoke.

He was arrested by Hampshire Police at the request of the North East Constabulary on suspicion of fraud.

In a statement released through Cleveland Police on Saturday, his sons Anthony and Mark Darwin said they were "extremely happy" at his reappearance which "came as a huge shock to the whole family."

The sons said their mother Anne shared their delight at the news.

Police are trying to trace Anne Darwin, who is understood to be living in Panama after she sold the couple's seven-bedroom seafront house in Seaton Carew, near Hartlepool three months ago.

So far, there have been no indications that she intends to return to Britain to see her husband.