Ex-Isle of Wight journalist writes book now a hit ITV series

David Leigh, 57, trained as a journalist at the County Press in the mid-1980s after leaving school.

Scroll down to see David speaking on ITV This Morning

Later in his successful career, which saw him take on leadership positions in Fleet Street, David was sent to Panama, Central America, in 2007 to track down Anne Darwin, the wife of notorious ‘Canoe Man’ fraudster John .

Her confessions to David have made headlines around the world and form the basis of her latest book, which bears the same name as the drama and is published by Hodder & Stoughton.

During his three years at the County Press, David stayed with Ann Giacomelli, who was born on the island 86 years ago and still lives in Cowes.

They have remained good friends and former Fleet Street reporter David, who now lives in Miami, saw her the last time he was back in the UK.

Dave Leigh with his landlady in Cowes Ann Giacomelli.

He visited Ann at the home of her daughter, Zoe McIntyre, a fellow journalist who grew up on the Isle of Wight and worked for ITV as program advertising manager.

What is the thief, his wife and the canoe talking about

David’s book recounts how John Darwin faked his own death to claim life insurance and avoid bankruptcy, and how his wife became an accomplice to the daring scam.

Darwin miraculously reappeared nearly six years after he was thought to have drowned in the North Sea after disappearing in his red canoe.

It later emerged that the former teacher and prison officer had faked his death so his wife could claim their life insurance policies as they faced almost certain bankruptcy.

Both were jailed for more than six years after being convicted of fraud and money laundering.

Anne’s confession to David about how her husband secretly lived in a studio apartment in the house next door to the family home for most of the time he was thought to be dead has made headlines across the world .

The couple even tricked their two adult children into thinking their father was dead.

The four-part ITV drama was written by acclaimed screenwriter Chris Lang (Unforgotten/Innocent).

It starred Eddie Marsan (Ray Donovan/Ridley Road) and Monica Dolan (Suitable Adult / A Very English Scandal) as John and Anne Darwin.

Isle of Wight County Press: David Leigh with Monica Dolan (Ann Darwin in the drama).David Leigh with Monica Dolan (Ann Darwin in the drama).

David, who played football for Petersfield United, is also part of the drama.

His character is portrayed by actor David Fynn.

For 18 years, David, 57, married and father of two daughters, has lived in Florida.

He said: “It was such an incredible story that I decided to write a book.

“It’s such an amazing story that you would really struggle to make it up.

“I am delighted that ITV has brought history to life in this new drama.”

Actor Eddie Marsan said: “The story of how and why John Darwin faked his own death to defraud insurance companies is fascinating, and if it weren’t fact you’d think it’s unbelievable. .

“I can’t pretend to understand what was going through his head when he made those choices.”

Monica Dolan said: “It tells the story of the most outrageous fraud of modern times – and my favorite kind of drama is when the outrageous comes from the prosaic.

“As breathtaking as they managed to pull off this deception in the first place, it’s how spectacularly the pair destroyed it as soon as they got away with it.”