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Web-first strategy for 'bizarre' Darwin trial

A dedicated online section and several daily pages are ensuring Hartlepool Mail readers are first with the news about the “most bizarre” trial the town has ever seen.

Anne Darwin, 56, is accused of six counts of deception and nine of money laundering after the ‘disappearance’ of her husband John in 2002, near Hartlepool.

John Darwin apparently drowned in a canoe accident in Seaton Carew, near Hartlepool, only to reappear when he walked into a police station in December.

Visitors to can view up-dates throughout the day from the Mail’s reporter based at court.

Deputy editor Gavin Foster said: “We started the first day of the trial with pages one, two and three. Since then we’ve been assessing the strength of stories as they come in.

“Our reporter has been coming out of court at regular intervals and updating whatever news he can.

“We’ve been able to deliver stuff in a way we never could before because of the website.

“There’s been a steady stream of people visiting the website throughout the day.”

The Mail is planning to run a huge background piece after the trial which is expected to finish on Tuesday.

The story has captured the UK and world media with the Mail having to fight for its press pass at court alongside all the other journalists.

When the story of John Darwin’s re-emergence first broke last December, the Hartlepool Mail was able to delve into its substantial background of stories and photographs from the original story in 2002.

The world’s media descended on the town with editor Joy Yates and Gavin giving interviews to everyone from Sky TV to radio stations in New Zealand.

Gavin added: “We were on Fox in America and the usual ones at home like the BBC and Sky.

“It is the most bizarre trial and story. We’ve had some big murder trials but this has the most unusual story behind it.

“It’s that which has captured the imagination rather than the actual crime.”