“Back-from-the-dead” canoeist John Darwin is staying with a friend in a former mining town close to where he grew up after being released from prison.
The disgraced former prison officer is staying in Easington, County Durham, five miles from Blackhall Colliery and 13 miles from Seaton Carew where he disappeared in 2002, according to an insider.
“He is living with a family friend,” the source said. “Where he is staying has been pre-arranged.”
A former neighbour in Seaton Carew said the notorious fraudster had been spotted walking a dog on the beach where he faked his death.
The owner of the Ocean View guest house, who would not give his name, said: “He’s been up and down the beach already, walking a dog. It was early morning. He must be staying nearby.”
The cheeky message “John woz ere” was scrawled in the paint-covered front window of the Darwins’ former home, which was being renovated.
The imposing seafront property was sold to help fund the couple’s planned escape to Panama.
Darwin was sentenced to six years and three months behind bars in July 2008 after admitting faking his own death in a canoeing accident to allow his wife Anne to make fraudulent insurance and pension claims.
The 60-year-old walked free from Moorland open prison in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, after serving less than half his sentence.
A probation service spokesman said: “All offenders subject to probation supervision on release from prison have to adhere to a set of strict conditions. They are subject to recall to custody if they breach their conditions or their behaviour indicates that it is no longer safe for them to remain in the community.”