Monday, December 03, 2007

The return of the lost canoeist

I imagine it was a bit of an "emotional" reunion ...
Missing canoeist 'lost his memory for five years' - Times Online

A man who went missing after disappearing on a canoeing trip off Hartlepool in March 2002 has no memory as to what happened and where he had been during the past five years, a police office said today.

John Darwin, a 57-year-old father of two presumed to be dead by his family, walked into the West End Central police station on Saturday and announced: "I think I'm a missing person."

Mr Darwn went missing five and a half years ago after going paddling off Seaton Carew, near Hartlepool. The remains of his red canoe were found washed up on a nearby beach but despite a huge search operation involving five lifeboats and a fixed-wing aircraft no sign of his body was ever found.

His sons, Mark, 31, and Anthony, 29, who both live in the south of England, were called to an "emotional reunion" with their father at the police station off Regent Street.

Today, Inspector Helen Eustace of Cleveland Police told the Hartlepool Mail that she was trying to piece together Mr Darwin's movements but the missing man himself could not fill in the gaps himself.

"We have no account of what's happened in the last five years. He walked into a police station and said 'I think I am a missing person'," she said.

"The guy can't remember anything about what's happened or why he's come forward. He has no memory at all. He has obviously been somewhere for the last five years and a lot of questions need answering."

Ms Eustace said that Mr Darwin had been checked over, was "showing no signs of any illness" and had been free to leave the station.

She added: "It is very infrequent that a case like this happens. It's quite a shock really, more of a shock for the family."

Cleveland Police said that officers hoped to interview Mr Darwin later today to establish his whereabouts of the past five years, after which they could close his missing person file. "We need to speak to him before we close the case, to see whether there are any issues with him of if he needs help," a spokeswoman said. "It's entirely routine...
Entirely routine?

I don't think I'll bring this one up with my mother.

Update: An insurance scam. Not the first!

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