Colin Pitchfork: Murderer and rapist can be freed from prison, parole board says

7 June 2021, 13:26

Colin Pitchfork can be released from prison
Colin Pitchfork can be released from prison. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

Colin Pitchfork, who raped and killed two schoolgirls and was the first criminal to be caught using DNA evidence, can be freed from prison, the Parole Board has said.

He was jailed for life in 1988 after he strangled Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in Leicestershire in 1983 and 1986.

Pitchfork was told to serve at least 30 years.

He was caught after the world's first mass screening for DNA was carried out, with 5,000 men across three villages asked to volunteer blood or saliva samples.

He pleaded guilty to two offences of murder, two of rape, two of indecent assault and one of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. His minimum term was cut by two years in 2009.

Although he was denied parole in 2016 and in 2018, Pitchfork was moved to an open prison three years ago.

A document detailing the Parole Board decision said: "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."

The panel sifted through 1,100 pages of information, including victim statements, and heard evidence from Pitchfork, who is now in his 60s.

Schoolgirl Dawn Ashworth. The 15-year-old was found raped and murdered in the village of Narborough
Schoolgirl Dawn Ashworth. The 15-year-old was found raped and murdered in the village of Narborough. Picture: PA

According to the document, at the time of his offending Pitchfork thought "about sex a lot", 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".

During his time behind bars he has 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 document said.

Pitchfork's release is subject to strict licence conditions.

He will have to live at a certain address, take part in probation supervision, wear an electronic tag, take part in polygraph - lie detector - tests and have to disclose what vehicles he uses and who he speaks to, while facing particular limits on contact with children.

Pitchfork will also be subject to a curfew, have restrictions on using technology and limitations on where he can go.

The decision is provisional for 21 days, subject to the approval of the Justice Secretary who has the power to appeal against the decision.

It is understood the Government will seek legal advice over the decision.

A Parole Board spokesman said: "Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.

"Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority."

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