Sion Jenkins was today tasting freedom for the first time in more than six years.

Jenkins, 46, was released from prison yesterday when a judge at the Old Bailey granted him bail in the run-up to his retrial for the alleged murder of foster daughter Billie-Jo, 13, in 1997.

Jenkins left high security HMP Belmarsh in south London at 8.30pm. He was driven out in a grey Ford Mondeo.

His father, David, and brother have put up a combined £300,000 to ensure he abides by a series of strict conditions.

He will live with his parents at their home in Aberystwyth, Wales, and must not stray beyond a ten-mile radius around their Victorian home. He must not contact his four daughters in connection with the case.

All correspondence with his legal team must be submitted to the courts.

And the former headteacher designate at William Parker School in Hastings, whose conviction for Billie-Jo's murder was quashed three weeks ago, must report to the local police station every day.

In a brief statement outside the court in central London yesterday, David Jenkins said his son would need "space, time and silence" to recover from his incarceration and prepare for his next trial.

Jenkins did not attend the 20-minute bail hearing yesterday, which took place in a private courtroom. He learned of his release in a phone call from his legal team.

After the hearing David Jenkins said: "We are absolutely delighted Sion has been granted bail and we can't wait to get him home. It is another step, after seven years, towards getting justice.

"I think what he will need is space, time and silence after six-and-a-half years in prison."

Billie Jo's natural father Bill arrived for yesterday's hearing but promptly left when he discovered it was being held behind closed doors.

Also at court was Detective Chief Inspector Steve Dennis, of the Sussex Police Major Crime Squad.

After the hearing Najna Khanzada, of Jenkins' London-based solicitors Bindman and Partners, read out the bail conditions to the Press. She refused to confirm the bail address.

She contradicted an earlier report given by a representative for the Crown Prosecution Service who told reporters a web site set up by supporters, called Justice for Sion Jenkins, would not be allowed to operate. It remained online today.

Sion Jenkins' defence team, led by Clare Montgomery, QC, is now preparing for his retrial, which is due to take place at the Old Bailey early next year.

The killing of Billie-Jo Jenkins provoked an outcry in February 1997.

She had been bludgeoned to death with an 18in metal tent spike on the patio of the family's home in Lower Park Road, Hastings. Jenkins has always maintained his innocence.

He claimed an intruder was responsible for killing her as she painted the patio doors. However, a jury convicted him at Lewes Crown Court in July 1998.