BACK-FROM-THE-DEAD canoeist John Darwin has rekindled his relationship with his two sons.
The 61-year-old revealed his delight to the Mail at being back in contact with Mark and Anthony after they previously disowned their parents.
He told how they visited him when he was released from prison and plan to keep in touch.
Darwin said: “I’m delighted I’m in touch with my boys and they came to see me.”
He even boasted and showed a birthday card they had sent him which featured a joke about MPs fiddling expenses.
John also revealed that he spent “the majority” of his time in prison writing and has plans to release three books in the future.
Speaking to the Mail at his new rented bungalow in Seaton Carew, Darwin said he has had some contact with his sons since September 2008 – two months after he was jailed following his wife’s conviction.
He said the boys visited him in Easington after his release from Moorland Open Prison, in South Yorkshire, in January this year.
He laughed as he showed off a birthday card sent from them to him last month which makes light of the MPs’ expenses scandal and joked: “They’ve got my sense of humour.”
But he also spoke of his regret at the fact that Mark, 35, and 32-year-old Anthony were dragged into the media scrum which followed his return and admission of his scheming five years “away”.
It was dusk on March 21, 2002, when John, with the help of his wife of 39 years, Anne, pushed a canoe out of Seaton Carew - and failed to return.
As the former prison officer and teacher planned his new life, distraught Mark and Anthony waited for news.
As the days dragged on they had to come to terms with the fact their dad had drowned.
During her trial, Anne broke down as she recalled lying to her eldest son, Mark, and wrapping her arms around him sobbing: “I think I’ve lost him.”
The pair attended a clifftop memorial service with Anne – and all the while she lied to them knowing he was still alive.
They even visited Anne on several occasions at their then-home at The Cliff and stayed as John hid away in a room he created through an attic door,
When he walked into a London police station five years later, the thrilled sons were among the first to greet their dad.
Darwin even stayed at Mark’s home in Basingstoke, Hampshire, still claiming he couldn’t remember the last five years.
But the sons were left betrayed when pictures began to emerge of their parents in Panama and their scam was exposed.
In a statement issued by Cleveland Police in the days following John’s return, Mark and Anthony said: “Having seen the recent media speculation surrounding our parents ever since our dad was arrested, we are very much in an angry and confused state of mind.”
They added: “We have not spoken to either of our parents since our dad’s arrest and at this present time we want no further contact with them.”
But now it seems that John has managed to build bridges.
“Obviously I am pleased to be back in contact with my sons after what happened,” John told the Mail.
“I have been since September 2008 and they came to visit me in Easington.
“They plan to visit more, but the last thing I want is for them to get harassed and chased about.”
As revealed in the first part of an exclusive interview with John in yesterday’s Mail, the former prison guard and teacher says it was always his intention to move back to Seaton Carew.
He said he was delighted to be back and enjoys a daily walk down to the beach and weather permitting spending days in his garden.
But the future could hold more for him as he revealed he plans to publish three books.
He said: “I did lots of writing in prison, there’s nothing much else to do.
“I was getting 1,000 words down an hour.
“I wrote three books, one of which was fiction.
“I will publish them one day, there’s stuff in those books that nobody knows.”
Detectives are still trying to claw back cash that John made from his fraud and he is prevented from making money from his crimes.
But he insisted that any profits made from releases of books could be given to charity, or to his sons.