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Colin Pitchfork Killer to be released from prison after challenge fails

Colin Pitchfork Killer  to be released from prison after challenge fails


Colin Pitchfork: Double child killer's release confirmed Tue, 13 Jul 2021 12:00:00 +0100-Parole Board rejects government call to re-examine decision to free man who murdered two schoolgirls.

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Killer Colin Pitchfork to be released from prison after challenge fails

July 13, 2021

The child killer and rapist Colin Pitchfork is to be freed from prison after the Parole Board rejected calls from the government to reconsider the controversial decision.

Now 61, the double murderer was jailed in 1988 after raping and strangling 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in Leicestershire in 1983 and 1986.

Pitchfork became the first man convicted of murder on the basis of DNA evidence in 1988 after admitting two murders, two rapes, two indecent assaults and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

In early June the Parole Board ruled that Pitchfork could be released on licence, saying his behaviour in custody had been “positive and had included extensive efforts to help others”.

Last month, the justice secretary, Robert Buckland, formally asked the Parole Board to reconsider the move on the grounds that there was an arguable case that the decision was “irrational”.

But on Tuesday the Parole Board confirmed it had rejected the reconsideration request and Pitchfork’s release would proceed.

A spokesperson 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.”

The Ministry of Justice said it was disappointed but respected the decision.

The threshold for a Parole Board decision to be reconsidered is the same as that required for a judicial review: that the decision was irrational or the process by which the decision was reached was flawed.

Under the conditions of his release, Pitchfork would have to live at a designated address, wear an electronic tag, complete lie detector tests and disclose what vehicles he uses and to whom he speaks, with particular limits on contact with children.

The families of the victims have criticised the board’s decision. “There are some crimes so horrendous that a reprieve is not appropriate. It is an affront to natural justice,” Dawn’s uncle, Philip Musson, previously said. “He took their lives in a way which is an absolute torment to those who cared and loved these girls.”

Pitchfork was caught after the world’s first mass screening for DNA, when 5,000 men in three villages were asked to volunteer blood or saliva samples, although he initially evaded justice by getting a colleague to take the test for him.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of murder, two of rape, two of indecent assault and one of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The lord chief justice at the time, Lord Lane, said: “From the point of view of the safety of the public, I doubt if he should ever be released.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “We are disappointed with this outcome given we felt there were grounds for the decision to be reconsidered, but respect the independent judge’s decision.

“Our sympathies remain with the families of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth but they can be reassured that Pitchfork will be subject to close probation supervision for life and faces an immediate return to prison if he fails to comply with his licence conditions.

“The lord chancellor has launched a root and branch review of the parole system, which will report back later this year, and we are changing the law so that child murderers such as Pitchfork face life in prison without the possibility of parole as the default sentence.”


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Killer Colin Pitchfork to be released from prison after challenge fails Tue, 13 Jul 2021 12:00:00 +0100-A judge-led review upholds a decision by the Parole Board to release double child killer Colin Pitchfork.

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Colin Pitchfork: Double child killer’s release confirmed

image captionColin Pitchfork has spent 33 years in prison for the rape and murder of 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth

A double child killer who became the first murderer to be convicted using DNA evidence will be released.

Colin Pitchfork has served 33 years in prison for raping and murdering 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in the 1980s.

Last month the Parole Board said it was satisfied the 61-year-old was safe for release, leading to a challenge by Justice Secretary Robert Buckland.

A judge-led review upheld the move and rejected the government's challenge.

Barbara Ashworth said the decision to allow her daughter's killer to be released was “disappointing” but added that “he can't hurt me any more”.

She said: “I've had 33 years of it and it's all been said and as far as I'm concerned he's going to be out in amongst the public, so it speaks for itself.”

In a statement the Parole Board said it “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.”

The justice secretary intervened on the grounds the decision to free Pitchfork was “irrational” because the Parole Board panel “failed to give sufficient reasons” as to why it agreed with the evidence provided by professional witnesses.

Judge Michael Topolski QC, who reviewed the decision for the Parole Board, said he did not consider the decision “irrational” and concluded that the “application for reconsideration is refused”.

He added: “This was and remains a case of considerable seriousness, complexity and notoriety. The terrible consequences of the brutal rapes and murders of two innocent girls will forever darken the lives of the families concerned.”

Pitchfork's release will be subject to strict licence conditions.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “We are disappointed with this outcome given we felt there were grounds for the decision to be reconsidered, but respect the independent judge's decision.

“Our sympathies remain with the families of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth but they can be reassured that Pitchfork will be subject to close probation supervision for life and faces an immediate return to prison if he fails to comply with his licence conditions.

“The Lord Chancellor has launched a Root and Branch review of the parole system which will report back later this year and we are changing the law so that child murderers such as Pitchfork face life in prison without the possibility of parole as the default sentence.”

  • Colin Pitchfork, 22 at the time of the first murder, was married with two sons. He was a baker who grew up in rural Leicestershire and lived in Littlethorpe
  • In November 1983 he left his baby son sleeping in the back of his car and raped and strangled 15-year-old Lynda Mann in Narborough. He then drove home and put his son to bed
  • Three years later, less than a mile from where Lynda died, he raped and murdered Dawn Ashworth, also 15, of Enderby. The pathologist who examined her body described it as a “brutal sexual assault”
  • A police investigation initially led to the wrong man, a local 17-year-old who falsely confessed to one of the killings. After an unprecedented mass screening of 5,000 men using pioneering “DNA profiling” technology, Pitchfork was eventually caught. At first, Pitchfork had evaded justice by persuading a colleague to take the test for him
  • He pleaded guilty to both murders in September 1987 and was sentenced to life in January 1988. The judge said the killings were “particularly sadistic” and he doubted Pitchfork would ever be released
  • In 2009, his 30-year life tariff was reduced by two years for “exceptional progress” – a decision that was strongly criticised by the families of his victims
  • He was moved to an undisclosed open prison at some point prior to 8 January 2017, after his request for release

Follow BBC East Midlands on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Send your story ideas to eastmidsnews@bbc.co.uk.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.
image captionColin Pitchfork has spent 33 years in prison for the rape and murder of 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth

A double child killer who became the first murderer to be convicted using DNA evidence will be released.

Colin Pitchfork has served 33 years in prison for raping and murdering 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in the 1980s.

Last month the Parole Board said it was satisfied the 61-year-old was safe for release, leading to a challenge by Justice Secretary Robert Buckland.

A judge-led review upheld the move and rejected the government's challenge.

Barbara Ashworth said the decision to allow her daughter's killer to be released was “disappointing” but added that “he can't hurt me any more”.

She said: “I've had 33 years of it and it's all been said and as far as I'm concerned he's going to be out in amongst the public, so it speaks for itself.”

In a statement the Parole Board said it “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.”

The justice secretary intervened on the grounds the decision to free Pitchfork was “irrational” because the Parole Board panel “failed to give sufficient reasons” as to why it agreed with the evidence provided by professional witnesses.

Judge Michael Topolski QC, who reviewed the decision for the Parole Board, said he did not consider the decision “irrational” and concluded that the “application for reconsideration is refused”.

He added: “This was and remains a case of considerable seriousness, complexity and notoriety. The terrible consequences of the brutal rapes and murders of two innocent girls will forever darken the lives of the families concerned.”

Pitchfork's release will be subject to strict licence conditions.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “We are disappointed with this outcome given we felt there were grounds for the decision to be reconsidered, but respect the independent judge's decision.

“Our sympathies remain with the families of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth but they can be reassured that Pitchfork will be subject to close probation supervision for life and faces an immediate return to prison if he fails to comply with his licence conditions.

“The Lord Chancellor has launched a Root and Branch review of the parole system which will report back later this year and we are changing the law so that child murderers such as Pitchfork face life in prison without the possibility of parole as the default sentence.”

  • Colin Pitchfork, 22 at the time of the first murder, was married with two sons. He was a baker who grew up in rural Leicestershire and lived in Littlethorpe
  • In November 1983 he left his baby son sleeping in the back of his car and raped and strangled 15-year-old Lynda Mann in Narborough. He then drove home and put his son to bed
  • Three years later, less than a mile from where Lynda died, he raped and murdered Dawn Ashworth, also 15, of Enderby. The pathologist who examined her body described it as a “brutal sexual assault”
  • A police investigation initially led to the wrong man, a local 17-year-old who falsely confessed to one of the killings. After an unprecedented mass screening of 5,000 men using pioneering “DNA profiling” technology, Pitchfork was eventually caught. At first, Pitchfork had evaded justice by persuading a colleague to take the test for him
  • He pleaded guilty to both murders in September 1987 and was sentenced to life in January 1988. The judge said the killings were “particularly sadistic” and he doubted Pitchfork would ever be released
  • In 2009, his 30-year life tariff was reduced by two years for “exceptional progress” – a decision that was strongly criticised by the families of his victims
  • He was moved to an undisclosed open prison at some point prior to 8 January 2017, after his request for release

Follow BBC East Midlands on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Send your story ideas to eastmidsnews@bbc.co.uk.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.


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– July 13, 2021
Colin Pitchfork Killer to be released from prison after challenge fails

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