A father-of-two who triggered a manhunt when he vanished for six months has returned home saying he had been looking for a job.
The disappearance of Ian Richardson, 55, from his home in Ferryhill, sparked a massive police search in August 2003.
When he left, he told his wife and two children he was going for an interview at nearby Spennymoor JobCentre.
Police say Mr Richardson is now back home claiming to have been staying in hostels while looking for work.
He left home on 11 August 2003, but when he failed to return, a missing persons investigation was launched.
Before leaving the family home, Mr Richardson even sang Happy Birthday to his daughter Gillian, who was celebrating her 25th birthday.
A spokesman for Durham Police said: "Mr Richardson had failed to make contact with his wife or two children during this time.
"On Friday, Mr Richardson returned home, saying he had been staying in hostels across the country.
"He said he had been depressed at his failure to find work.
"Mr Richardson sang happy birthday to his daughter, Gillian, who was 25, before leaving the house.
"He was spotted at Spennymoor that afternoon, but did not return home."
Officers from Durham Police carried out extensive inquiries into the disappearance, but were unable to trace him.
Mr Richardson said he had spent the last six months living in hostels across the country, including Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester.
The police spokesman added: "We are pleased he has returned home fit and well.
"We would like to thank everyone who had assisted in our inquiries."