Runaway canoe man John Darwin is being used in an unlikely new role – as an assistant in his second wife’s bid to become a social media influencer.
The notorious fraudster, who faked his own death to cash in on his life insurance policy, makes a number of appearances on Mercy Darwin’s social media pages.
His new wife describes herself as a ‘digital creator’ in her profile and the videos in which she increasingly uses Darwin as a co-star are receiving dozens of likes.
One vlog shows denim hotpants-clad Mercy, 49, serenading father-of-two John, 72, and dancing around him in what appears to be the living room of their home in the Philippines.
Dressed in a tiny pair of shorts and a white t-shirt – and with a bandage covering his ear – John looks besotted as his wife sings to him and rubs his chest.
Runaway canoe man John Darwin is being used in an unlikely new role – as an assistant in his second wife’s bid to become a social media influencer
When father-of-two John Darwin (pictured left in Panama with his wife Anne in 2006) went missing in his canoe in the sea outside his home in County Durham in 2002, his own sons believed he was dead. Right: How Darwin looked after faking his death
Another video shows the couple with a hot water bottle pressed between their heads as they laugh and smile while a jolly tune plays in the background. The videos are the first to emerge of John since his story was dramatized in the acclaimed ITV series ‘The Thief, His Wife And The Canoe’ last year.
Actor Eddie Marsan played the fraudster while actress Monica Dolan starred as his ex-wife Anne Darwin in the four-part drama.
A source said: ‘They pair of them are obviously still keen for attention despite everything that happened.
‘John’s two sons, who have already suffered so much, will be cringing when they see these videos.’
John originally hit the headlines in December 2007 when he turned up at West End Central police station in London claiming to be suffering from amnesia.
Suspicions were raised when it emerged he was £700,000 in debt when he went missing five years earlier.
And an estate agent photo later proved that John and his wife Anne had been secretly living in Panama in central America since 2006.
They had bought a £200,000 property in the tropical country in 2007 using John’s life insurance money.
His new wife describes herself as a ‘digital creator’ in her profile and the videos in which she increasingly uses Darwin as a co-star are receiving dozens of likes
Another video shows the couple with a hot water bottle pressed between their heads as they laugh and smile while a jolly tune plays in the background
Actor Eddie Marsan played the fraudster while actress Monica Dolan starred as his ex-wife Anne Darwin in the four-part ITV drama ‘The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe’ last year
But the couple hit a hitch when it turned out he would need to pass strict identity checks to obtain a visa in Panama.
Once he returned to England, the scam began to unravel. Police discovered that John had faked his own death by paddling out into the North Sea in his canoe and then disappearing.
He was declared missing when he failed to turn up at his prison job and – as his body was never found but the wreckage of his canoe did turn up – he was presumed dead.
The truth was that for years John had been hiding out in a rented property next door to the family home in Seaton Carew, County Durham.
Callously, Anne told their two grown-up sons Mark and Anthony he was dead, a cruel lie they have apparently never forgiven him for.
After the truth was exposed, John was arrested for obtaining life insurance money by deception and making untrue statements.
Anne returned from Panama and was charged with a count of fraud. Both were convicted of fraud on July 23, 2008. John received six years and three months, Anne was given six years and six months.
John was released in January 2011 (pictured in 2014) and struck up an online romance online with Mercy in 2015
John was released in January 2011 and Anne two months later and they eventually divorced with John citing ‘unreasonable behaviour’.
He struck up an online romance online with Mercy in 2015 and they now live together in the Philippines, where she sublets a property and a clothes stall, according to reports.
Anne wrote a book called ‘Out Of My Depth’ about what happened and has always insisted her ex was the so-called brains behind the fraud.
Speaking in 2016, she explained: ‘John could also be persuasive. He told me, “I’ll only need to vanish for a couple of weeks and we’ll have the money.” It got out of control.
‘The deeper you get into these situations, the harder it is to get out. If I had any inkling it would have lasted more than few a weeks, there’s no way I could have gone along with it and put myself through years of torture.
‘But once it was done, and he got me to lie that he’d disappeared, I couldn’t get out of it.’