Colin Pitchfork: Justice Secretary Robert Buckland says he may intervene in murderer's release

Are you considering intervening to stop Colin Pitchfork being released? Justice Secretary Robert Buckland says yes

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has said he is considering intervening to stop double murderer Colin Pitchfork from being released.

Pitchfork was jailed for life after strangling 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in Leicestershire in 1983 and 1986.

After pleading guilty to two offences of murder, two of rape, two of indecent assault and one of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, Pitchfork, who was in his 20s, was jailed for life at Leicester Crown Court in 1988. He was sentenced to serve a minimum of 30 years.

But after a hearing in March, the Parole Board published its decision last Monday to release Pitchfork, who is now in his 60s.

Colin Pitchfork Credit: Police handout

The families of the two victims have expressed their horror at the decision.

Asked if he was considering intervening to stop Pitchfork being released, Buckland told ITV News: "Indeed. I have the power to consider asking the Parole Board for a reconsideration of the case.

"I'm doing just that and I will make an announcement very shortly."

Pitchfork, the first man convicted of murder on the basis of DNA evidence, was denied parole in 2016 and in 2018. However, he was moved to an open prison three years ago and began to be allowed out on day release.

He was caught after the world’s first mass screening for DNA, as 5,000 men in three villages were asked to volunteer blood or saliva samples.

Colin Pitchfork was jailed for the rape and murder of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth Credit: ITV Central

A document detailing the Parole Board decision read: “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 considered more than 1,100 pages of information, victim statements and heard evidence from Pitchfork as well as his probation officers, police and a psychologist.

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, according to the document.

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.

A Parole Board spokesman said: “Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.”