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Colin Pitchfork: Double child killer denied prison release

 (PA Media)
(PA Media)

Double child rapist and murderer Colin Pitchfork cannot be released from prison, the Parole Board has ruled.

Pitchfork was jailed for life with a minimum term of 30 years in 1988, later reduced to 28 years, for raping and strangling 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in 1983 and 1986 respectively.

The Parole Board met in October and November to decide whether he could be released, with its decision summary published on Thursday.

In the panel’s view, there remains a need for Mr Pitchfork to complete further work to address the identified risk factors in his case and it determined that this work should be undertaken in a closed prison

Parole Board statement

It said: “After considering the circumstances of his offending, the progress made while in custody and on licence, and the evidence presented at the hearing, the panel was not satisfied that release at this point would be safe for the protection of the public.

“Nor did the panel recommend to the Secretary of State that Mr Pitchfork should be transferred to an open prison.

“In the panel’s view, there remains a need for Mr Pitchfork to complete further work to address the identified risk factors in his case and it determined that this work should be undertaken in a closed prison.

“Mr Pitchfork will be eligible for another parole review in due course.”

Pitchfork became the first man to be convicted in the UK using DNA fingerprinting evidence following the murders in Leicestershire.

He was released in September 2021 but recalled to prison two months later for breaching his licence when he approached a lone woman while litter-picking.

The Parole Board said in June this year that the decision to recall him was flawed and that his detention was no longer necessary for public safety.

The decision was blocked by the Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk, who in July ordered the decision to release him be reviewed.

Pitchfork, who was 27 when he was jailed, had his case reviewed on October 2 and 3, and November 6, where he was aged 63.

It must be reviewed again in two years.

Mr Pitchfork was preoccupied with sexual thoughts, felt entitled to have sex as and when he wanted to and found enjoyment in sexual violence

Parole Board

In its summary on Thursday, the Parole Board said despite Pitchfork undertaking work in custody, it could “not be wholly satisfied” that behaviours that caused him to offend had been resolved.

It said: “At the time of his offending, these risk factors had included his negative attitude towards women, his difficulties in managing extreme emotions and his enjoyment of causing fear in women.

“He had a need to be in control, held deviant fantasies and wanted to punish women. Mr Pitchfork was preoccupied with sexual thoughts, felt entitled to have sex as and when he wanted to and found enjoyment in sexual violence.

“He made poor decisions in his life, had difficulties in his relationships and was socially isolated, finding it difficult to solve life’s problems.”

It added: “The panel was concerned that there was an absence of current information about Mr Pitchfork’s attitude towards sex, his thinking and his beliefs.

“Having explored this at the hearing, the panel could not be wholly satisfied whether the behaviours that caused Mr Pitchfork to offend were no longer present.

“The panel also identified concerns about his behaviour in prison since his recall and what it considered to be protracted and inconsistent explanations from Mr Pitchfork about his time on licence.

“Having heard his evidence, the panel did not consider that he was being open and honest.”

The decision is provisional for 21 days, during which time Pitchfork can appeal, but the families of his victims have been made aware of the outcome.

A man capable of committing such horrific crimes, now only in his early 60s, has no place in the community where he remains a clear risk and I will continue to make that case

Alberto Costa MP

The MP for South Leicestershire, Alberto Costa, who previously campaigned for Pitchfork to remain behind bars, welcomed the decision and said the killer had “no place in the community”.

In a statement, he said: “This is welcome news for my constituents and the families of Dawn and Lynda whose suffering will ultimately always outweigh Pitchfork’s punishment.

“Since I was first elected in 2015, I have been working with my team to see that Pitchfork remains in prison because I have no interest in gambling on the safety of women and girls in South Leicestershire so a convicted murderer and rapist can live in the community.

“A man capable of committing such horrific crimes, now only in his early 60s, has no place in the community where he remains a clear risk and I will continue to make that case.

“Under today’s laws, Colin Pitchfork’s crimes would likely see him spend his entire natural life in prison and today’s decision is another step closer to that reality.”