LONDON (Reuters) - A canoeist who went missing, presumed drowned, off the coast of northeast England five years ago has turned up alive and well at a London police station, officers said on Monday.
John Darwin was reported missing in March 2002 after he failed to appear at work, and the shattered remains of his red canoe were later found washed up on a beach near Hartlepool, Cleveland.
Despite extensive searches for the former prison officer, involving aircraft, lifeboats and a Royal Navy ship, no trace was found of him.
On Saturday, Darwin, who is in his 50s and married with two children, turned up at West End Central police station in London. Mystery still surrounds his disappearance.
“We are pleased Mr Darwin has been located and any interviews with him are a matter of procedure,” said Detective Chief Inspector Paul Beddow of Cleveland Police.
“This has been a long-running inquiry by Cleveland Police and officers from the inquiry team hope to speak to Mr Darwin later today to establish his whereabouts during the last five-and-a-half years.”
Local newspaper the Hartlepool Mail said Darwin’s wife Anne had declared herself a widow six months after his disappearance. The paper said the couple had been married for 28 years at the time and that Mr Darwin had worked as a science teacher.
His father Ronald said he was overjoyed at the news.
“I never ever gave up hope I would see him again. I didn’t think he was dead, I just got used to him not being around,” he was quoted by media as saying.
“When he comes through the door, I will just give him a nice hug and kiss. I will be over the moon.”
Reporting by Avril Ormsby and Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison