01 Sep Colin Pitchfork: Man who raped and killed two children in the 1980s freed after spending 33 years behind bars | UK News
A man who raped and murdered two children in the 1980s has been released from prison after spending 33 years behind bars.
Colin Pitchfork, who is now in his early 60s, was given a life sentence in 1988 with a minimum term of 30 years after strangling two 15-year-olds, Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth, in Leicestershire in 1983 and 1986 respectively.
At the time he committed his first crime, Pitchfork was a 22-year-old, married father of two.
Pitchfork pleaded guilty to two murders, two rapes, two indecent assaults and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and became the first person in the UK to be convicted on the basis of DNA evidence.
Reacting to his release, Dawn Ashworth’s mother, Barbara Ashworth said “life should have meant life”.
“Well it was on the books that he was going to be released, but I don’t think he should be breathing the same air as us”, she told PA news agency.
“It goes without saying that life should have meant life in his case, because he said he was guilty of the offences, the murders of both the girls… and he did a lot more besides.”
Asked if she was surprised Pitchfork had become eligible for release, Ms Ashworth said: “Yes, I think so. They did say that if it had been done today he wouldn’t have been let out.
“But that doesn’t excuse anything. I don’t have my daughter back or any of the hopes and dreams that she had in her life.
“She was my only daughter and you live your life through them and their future – but that was taken away.”
In June, the Parole Board had ruled that he had made progress and was “suitable for release”.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland asked the board for a “reconsideration” of the decision – which he is permitted to do within 21 days – but the government’s appeal was refused.
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “Our heartfelt sympathies remain with the families of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth following the independent Parole Board’s decision to release Colin Pitchfork.
“Public safety is our top priority, which is why he is subject to some of the strictest licence conditions ever set and will remain under supervision for the rest of his life.
“If he breaches these conditions, he faces an immediate return to prison.”
Pitchfork was previously denied freedom in 2016 and 2018, and was then moved to an undisclosed open prison.
Following his release, Pitchfork will have to meet all standard licence conditions, face regular meetings with his probation officer and have extensive additional conditions placed on him.
Some of the additional requirements include ones to protect the victims’ families from unwanted contact with him, regular polygraph examinations and he will have to wear an electronic tag.
He will also be placed on the sex offenders’ register, live at a designated address, and will have to disclose what vehicles he uses and who he speaks to, while facing particular limits on contact with children.
A curfew, restrictions on technology use and limitations on where he can go will be applied as well.
The government plans to overhaul the parole system, with the findings of a review expected later this year.
It has also sought to change the law so child killers face life behind bars without parole.