Labda Watanzania ipo siku tutamkamata Ballali maana kifo chake bado kina utata mkubwa Canoe man and wife jailed for six years Angela Balakrishnan and Lee Glendinning guardian.co.uk, Wednesday July 23, 2008 Anne Darwin and her husband, John. Composite photograph: PA John Darwin, who admitted staging his own death in a canoe accident was today jailed for six years and three months. His wife, Anne, who was convicted today of helping him in the elaborate ruse to obtain £250,000 in insurance benefits, was jailed for six and a half years. Anne Darwin, of Seaton Carew, near Hartlepool, had denied her part in the fraud and had claimed her husband, John, forced her to go through with the plan. She showed no reaction as she was found guilty of six counts of deception and nine of money laundering, after the jury had deliberated for four hours. Her sons, Mark and Anthony, sat in the public gallery as the verdicts were read out. The judge, Mr Justice Wilkie, said the couple's sons were the "real victims" of the crime. "Although the sums involved are not as high as some reported cases, the duration of the offending, its multi-faceted nature and in particular the grief inflicted over the years to those who in truth were the real victims, your own sons, whose lives you crushed, make this a case which merits a particularly severe sentence." Addressing the defendants, the judge said he found John Darwin had been the "driving force behind the deceit". Anne Darwin was perhaps initially unconvinced, he said, but played an "instrumental rather than organising role". "In my judgment, you operated as a team, each contributing to the joint venture,'' he said. The jury at Teesside crown court heard that 55-year-old Anne Darwin convinced insurers, a coroner and even her sons that her husband had died in a canoe accident. She claimed the unusual defence of marital coercion, saying he forced her to go along with the plot. However, the defence required John Darwin to have been present with her each time an offence was committed and for her to have been forced to break the law. Her claims of an unhappy 35-year marriage to a man who was bullying and domineering were undermined when the jury was shown loving and sometimes flirtatious emails sent between the pair. While giving evidence, a tearful Darwin said she wished her husband had really disappeared at sea and that she contemplated suicide as the immense strain of living a double life became too much. The prosecution told the court that Darwin was "far from ... a shrinking violet" and a "determined, resolute woman who is able to lie and deceive at length". The jury heard that when the wife of the "canoe man" – as John Darwin has been called in the media – phoned police to report her husband missing, she had just dropped him off at Durham train station. Andrew Robertson QC, prosecuting, said during the trial: "The initial idea may have been John Darwin's rather than Anne's, but it was a scheme in which Anne Darwin not only played an equal and vital role – but it was a role she played with superb aplomb." John Darwin shocked police when he walked into a London police station in December last year claiming he had amnesia and could not remember anything since 2000 – two years before he went missing. Five years ago, an inquest into his disappearance after a canoe trip recorded an open verdict and the case was closed. However, three months before he turned up at the police station, officers revisited the case after being alerted to new information. The Darwins had been struggling with financial difficulties and the court heard how six days before the scam took place the couple were refused a £20,000 bank loan and were facing bankruptcy. The Crown Prosecution Service said it would ensure that all profits from the "callous and calculated" fraud would be confiscated. Gale Gilchrist, of the CPS, said: "The Darwins were willing to deceive family and friends and to waste considerable resources of the emergency services, all to maintain a lie that John Darwin had died and then exploit any compassion extended to them. We will now be working together with the police to ensure that all the profits of the crime currently held by the Darwins are confiscated."