Double child rapist and murderer faces fresh parole hearing

Double child rapist and murderer faces fresh parole hearing

Colin Pitchfork was jailed for life in 1988 (Picture: REX)

A man who raped and murdered two children will face a new parole hearing after successfully challenging a decision to keep him in prison.

Colin Pitchfork was jailed for life with a minimum term of 30 years, later reduced to 28 years, in 1988.

He raped and strangled 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in 1983 and 1986 respectively.

Last year the parole board ruled Pitchfork should not be freed, but he applied for the decision to be reconsidered and this has been granted.

He will face another hearing to decide if he can be freed from prison.

Barbara Ashworth, Dawn’s mum, shared her horror at the news: ‘Words fail me now. He seems to want to fight no matter what.

‘I just don’t know where to go next to be honest. He’s killed two schoolgirls. I know what I’d do, I’d throw away the key.’

Pitchfork arriving at court in 2009 (Picture: REX/Shutterstock)

In a statement, the parole board said: ‘The decision refusing Mr Pitchfork’s release was eligible for reconsideration under the parole board rules.

‘This meant the panel’s decision was provisional and that either Mr Pitchfork or the Secretary of State could make an application for reconsideration on the grounds that the decision not to release Mr Pitchfork had been irrational, procedurally unfair and/or there had been an error of law.

‘Mr Pitchfork made an application in December 2023, and this was granted by a reconsideration member of the parole board in February 2024.

‘The reason was that the oral hearing panel in 2023 had a duty to take the prison offender manager’s recommendation into account, and to give adequate reasons for any disagreement with that recommendation.

‘The reconsideration member concluded that the panel’s reasoned decision did not do so.

‘Mr Pitchfork’s case must now be reheard by a fresh panel of three parole board members. This panel will complete its own review of Mr Pitchfork’s case, including hearing oral evidence and will decide whether he meets the legal test for release.

Pitchfork was the first murderer convicted and jailed using DNA evidence (Picture: Shutterstock)

‘The fact that this is a reconsideration should not in any way affect their decision. It is a complete re-hearing.

‘Release can only be directed by the parole board if the new panel is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that Mr Pitchfork remain confined in prison.

‘Mr Pitchfork has, and will continue to, remain in prison until this case has fully concluded.’

Pitchfork, was aged 22 when he attacked Lynda Mann when she was walking home from babysitting in 1983.

He raped and strangled her and left her body on a footpath. He’d left his baby son asleep in his car while he attacked her.

Three years on he raped and killed Dawn Ashworth in a similar way.

Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth were both murdered by Pitchfork (Picture: Handout)

Pitchfork was also convicted of sexually assaulting two more girls, including a 16-year-old whom he threatened with a screwdriver and a knife.

He also admitted to exposing himself to more than 1,000 girls and women.

He was the first man convicted on DNA evidence after police launched the world’s first mass screening for DNA, involving 5,000 men in three Leicestershire villages volunteering blood or saliva samples.

Pitchfork avoided detection by paying a colleague to take the test for him – but he was found out when someone overheard the colleague talking about it in a pub.

He was arrested in 1987 and his DNA linked him to both murders.

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Pitchfork has been released from prison once before. He was released in September 2021 but was recalled two months later after approaching young women in the street.

He was granted parole last June, after the parole board said he shouldn’t have been recalled, but Justice Secretary Alex Chalk asked for the decision to be reconsidered.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: ‘Our heartfelt sympathies remain with the families of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth at this difficult time.

‘This government is reforming the parole system to add a ministerial check on the release of the most dangerous criminals and are changing the law so that for society’s most depraved killers, life means life.’

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