The Eternal Grift Of John Darwin

Britain’s most pathetic fraudster pensioner is off to fight in Ukraine with his life insurance fully paid up – what is there to be suspicious of?

Proving both that even the most awful situations can still throw up moments of such staggering absurdity that you can’t help but shake your head in both despair and amazement and that no circumstance is so awful that the world’s worst people won’t seek to profit from it, the press has reported today that John Darwin – forever known as ‘Canoe Man’ in the world of tabloid reporters – is heading out to fight in Ukraine. This was, I must admit, not the plot twist that I had been anticipating.

For those of you not aware of Darwin’s questionable claim to fame, back in 2002 he and his now ex-wife faked his death at sea when his capsized canoe and missing body were enough to ensure a hefty insurance payout. He stayed ‘dead’ for five years, initially hiding in a hidden room behind a wardrobe in his County Durham home before moving with his wife Anne and the ill-gotten loot to Panama, where he seemed unable to avoid being photographed. He then walked into a police station in London claiming amnesia, a story that quickly fell apart. The couple were both jailed in 2008, Anne very much playing the coerced victim even though she was clearly complicit. They divorced and upon his release in 2011, John Darwin was keen to play the field. John married the impressively-named Mercy Mae Avila Darwin in the Philippines in 2015 and that’s where he’s lived – until now.

Darwin is 71-years-old and as far as I’m aware, he has not had a life of hardcore mercenary action until this point. His only connection to Ukraine seems to be that he went on one date with a Ukrainian woman in 2013 after making contact with the 25-year-old on a website for – let’s not beat around the bush here – golddiggers and sugar daddies. Possibly because fraudsters who have been caught out and lost their ill-gotten gains are not the catch they might believe themselves to be, the relationship did not go beyond one date. But perhaps John is pining for her even now. Certainly, it seems an odd decision to leave your wife of seven years to go and fight in a foreign war when you are at retirement age. I also wonder if the Ukrainian resistance actually wants an old man with no relevant military experience getting in their way. Given that a few years ago he was again in the press complaining that the Philippines was bad for his allergies, I’m not sure a war zone is going to agree with him.

Of course, we only have Mrs Darwin’s word for all this and if history has taught us anything, it is that we shouldn’t necessarily believe everything that John Darwin’s wife might say. She’s certainly talking a good talk, stating that the only danger will be “for the Russian when he shoot them” and further commenting that “he will have a bulletproof vest and good life insurance, good for me.” Well, call me a cynic but if I had been foolish enough to actually allow an insurance fraudster to take out life insurance with me, I might be raising an eyebrow at this point. If John Darwin is killed in action, I’d certainly insist on an actual body being returned and DNA-tested before actually handing over any money. Because, you know, he has form here. he’d be mad to try the same scam twice, surely – but you never know.

Of course, a more likely explanation is that this is nothing but a shameless grift from a man who likes money and seems to believe himself to be a loveable rogue rather than a petty little failed conman. Notably, a TV drama about his case is airing soon in the UK – one that will no doubt make him out to be a harmless rascal and his wife an innocent victim – on ITV, the channel of choice for the culturally vapid. Perhaps he feels that this is the time to break cover and revel in his minor celebrity. Don’t be surprised if there is a GoFundMe around the corner, because God knows, there’s always a GoFundMe around the corner in stories like this.

Or, you never know – maybe he will become a James Bond figure, fighting his way across Ukraine, into Russia and eventually taking out Putin. It seems a tad unlikely.

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One comment

  1. He clearly hasn’t heard most non-Ukrainian volunteers are being used as cannon fodder.

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