Back-from-dead canoeist freed after doing under half jail term

Canoe man John Darwin has walked free from jail after serving less than half his sentence – with a warning yesterday there will be a price to pay if he tries to cash in on his infamy.

The former prison officer has already been seen strolling on the sands at Seaton Carew, Hartlepool, near where he, along with his wife, faked his own death in a canoeing accident in 2002.

Darwin, now 60, was given six years and three months in July 2008 for the life insurance scam but was released early from Moorland open prison in Doncaster.

A probation service spokesman said: "All offenders subject to probation supervision on release 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."

A Cleveland Police spokesman said: "Should Mr Darwin be seen to benefit from his activity, then the option is there for Cleveland Police to revisit his case and reassess his assets, which could then be seized. We can also confirm that some of the money has been recovered and efforts are ongoing with other agencies to try to recover the remainder."

Darwin's wife Anne is finishing her sentence at Askham Grange prison, near York, and doing rehabilitation work for the local RSPCA. Angela Hunter, RSPCA York and District branch manager, said: "RSPCA York and District branch has a long-standing relationship with Askham Grange Prison.

"We have a small number of volunteers from the prison who help us with daily duties at York Animal Home. All of those volunteers have earned the right to do voluntary work in the community and we are very happy to have them."

Fellow inmate Tracie Andrews, who murdered her fiance then claimed on TV he was the victim of road rage attack, is working in a cafe at the Spurriergate Centre, a non-denominational Christian centre based in St Michael's Church, York.

Centre boss Jesper Sorenson said: "We have a long working relationship with Askham Grange and have some volunteers here to help prepare them for release. We have been doing this for the past couple of years and had very positive results."