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UK

"Dead" canoeist admits deception

John Darwin (L) leaves Hartlepool police station after appearing at Hartlepool Magistrates court in Hartlepool, December 7, 2007. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

LONDON (Reuters) - A canoeist accused of faking his own death at sea to claim life insurance money admitted deception on Thursday.

John Darwin, 57, pleaded guilty at Leeds Crown Court to seven charges of obtaining cash by deception, but denied nine further charges of using criminal property.

He was charged last December after walking into a police station claiming amnesia after apparently drowning at sea in a canoeing accident.

His wife, Anne Darwin, appeared in court with him in Leeds where she denied six deception charges and nine of using criminal property.

She reported him missing in 2002 when he failed to return to their home in Hartlepool, Cleveland.

The broken remains of his red kayak were discovered a few weeks later. A coroner declared Darwin dead in 2003 after a police inquiry.

The pair were arrested and charged late last year after newspapers published a photograph of them apparently together in Central America. They are accused of fraud worth nearly 250,000 pounds.

Reporting by Peter Griffiths; Editing by Steve Addison

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