Colin Pitchfork: Double schoolgirl murderer can be released

A double child killer who was the first murderer to be convicted using DNA evidence can be released, the Parole Board has confirmed. 

Colin Pitchfork, 61, was jailed for life for raping and murdering 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in Leicestershire in the 1980s.

Pitchfork has spent 33 years in prison – he was last denied parole in 2018.

The Parole Board said it was satisfied Pitchfork was suitable for release, which is subject to conditions.

“Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority,” a Parole Board spokesman said.

The decision is provisional for 21 days, the spokesman added.

In a document explaining its decision, the Parole Board said at the time of the offences, Pitchfork had been someone who thought “about sex a lot” and used “violence and excessive force” and “sex to demonstrate power and control over women”.

He also struggled to cope with anger, loneliness and had a willingness to “seek revenge”.

But in prison, the Parole Board said he had taken part in several courses to address his behaviour and the panel heard Pitchfork’s “behaviour in custody had been positive and had included extensive efforts to help others”, including learning skills to help disabled people.

The panel concluded: “After considering the circumstances of his offending, the progress made while in custody and the evidence presented at the hearing, the panel was satisfied that Mr Pitchfork was suitable for release.”

A source close to Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said the government would take legal advice to explore the use of the “reconsideration mechanism”.

The Parole Board Reconsideration Mechanism, introduced in 2019, gives people the right to ask for a decision to be looked at again if they believe it was “procedurally unfair” or “irrational”.

South Leicestershire MP Alberto Costa, who had met with the Parole Board over Pitchfork’s case, told the BBC he was “appalled” at the news.

“Even though some 30 years have passed, this isn’t the sort of crime one can ever forget,” he said.

“My constituents remember the victims, people who went to school with these victims.

“It would be immoral, wrong and frankly dangerous to release this disgraceful murderer of two children.”

He added he would be lobbying Mr Buckland to block the release.

“I will work my socks off to make sure [the decision] is reconsidered and he is kept behind bars,” he said.