A PAL of back-from-the-dead canoeist John Darwin says his mate just wants to be left in peace.
The friend spoke from a house in Easington Colliery where national news crews had filmed Darwin on his way to attend an appointment at the dole office.
He revealed that part of the conditions of his release on licence was not to speak to the press – otherwise a breach could see him heading back inside.
The pal, who did not wish to be named, said: “Worse people have done worse crimes compared to what he did. MPs have done more damage than what he has.
“John is a close friend of a friend and I have had him out and about in Peterlee. At the end of the day he has done his due and they should leave him be now.”
The friend said former prison guard Darwin, 60, who is living in a house in Easington Colliery, had been contacted by various news companies since his release last Monday, with one journalist even wanting to know what was in his shopping bags.
He added: “They should have just left him to settle in a bit. He was in prison for three years, it’s going to take a long time for him to get settled in.
“He’s not allowed to speak to any press anyway, it’s part of his conditions. He doesn’t want to go back inside.
“He just wants to get on with his life now.”
The friend said Darwin had headed back to his east Durham roots, being a “mining village son” as his father Ronald hailed from Blackhall.
“All the street where he lives is accepting him, he has sound new neighbours,” he added.
“At the end of the day he has been hard-working all of his life, he was a prison guard.
“He has got nothing to hide.”
Shamed Darwin and wife Anne, 59, were locked up for more than six years each after Darwin faked his own death in a £250,000 insurance scam.
He infamously went missing, presumed dead, in a canoeing incident in March 2002.
But he spent years hiding in a secret room at his home in The Cliff, Seaton Carew, before fleeing to a new life in Panama, in Central America, then turning up at a London police station in December 2007, claiming to have amnesia.