Tory MP brands Colin Pitchfork release 'deeply regrettable'

14 July 2021, 07:29 | Updated: 14 July 2021, 07:31

The MP was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari on the decision to release Colin Pitchfork
The MP was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari on the decision to release Colin Pitchfork. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Conservative MP hits out at Parole Board decision to release double child killer Colin Pitchfork from prison.

South Leicestershire MP Alberto Costa, who has campaigned against the killer's release, said he was "deeply disappointed" by the decision, adding in a post on Twitter: "I have done all I can to halt Pitchfork's release."

Speaking to LBC Mr Costa said his "first and final thoughts" were with the families of the victims.

The conversation comes after the announcement double child killer Colin Pitchfork is set to be freed from prison after the Parole Board rejected a Government challenge against its ruling.

Pitchfork, now in his early 60s, was jailed for life after raping and strangling 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in Leicestershire in 1983 and 1986.

The Tory MP for South Leicestershire told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast that the decision to release the killer was "deeply regrettable that this individual is being given freedom."

Mr Costa pointed out that Pitchfork "isn't an elderly man suffering from some terminal illness, he's only 61, he's a fit man, he's got years if not decades of life ahead of him."

Branding Pitchfork's crimes "truly repugnant," the MP asked if it could ever be right to release someone like this into society.

Nick Ferrari asked if the current Parole Board system needed to be reviewed and reformed in the wake of the decision.

Mr Costa said it was "right" that the government had committed to undertaking a "root and branch review" of the current system.

Pitchfork's 30-year minimum term was cut by two years in 2009 and he was moved to an open prison three years ago.

Following a hearing in March, the Parole Board ruled he was "suitable for release", despite this being denied in 2016 and 2018.

But last month Justice Secretary Robert Buckland asked the board, which is independent of the Government, to re-examine the decision under the so-called reconsideration mechanism.

On Tuesday the Parole Board announced the application had been "refused".

A spokesman said in a statement: "The Parole Board has immense sympathy for the families of Dawn Ashworth and Lynda Mann and recognises the pain and anguish they have endured and continue to endure through the parole process.

"However, Parole Board panels are bound by law to assess whether a prisoner is safe to release. It has no power to alter the original sentence set down by the courts. Legislation dictates that a panel's decision must be solely focused on what risk a prisoner may pose on release and whether that risk can be managed in the community.

"As made clear in the reconsideration decision, release was supported by all of the Secretary of State's witnesses during Mr Pitchfork's review."