Victim's mother: Double murderer Colin Pitchfork 'will kill again' on release from prison

  • Rajiv Popat reports

The mother of one of the victims of Colin Pitchfork, who raped and killed two 15-year-olds, in Leicestershire in 1983 and 1986, says "he will kill again," after the parole board ruled he can be released from prison.

He was given a 30-year minimum term for the murders of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth, when he was sentenced at Leicester Crown Court in 1988.

Lynda Mann's mother told ITV News Central that she was devastated to hear the news, and that he should never be released again.

The MP for South Leicestershire, Alberto Costa, also told ITV News Central, "we must send out a signal in society that if you commit these sort of crimes against women and children you must be locked up for life."

A hearing took place in March to consider whether he was suitable for release and today the Parole Board released their decision saying,

"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."

Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth Credit: Police handout

Pitchfork pleaded guilty to two offences of murder, two of rape, two of indecent assault and one of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Although he was denied parole in 2016 and in 2018, Pitchfork was moved to an open prison three years ago and began to be allowed out on day release.

After Pitchfork was jailed in 1988, the Lord Chief Justice said: "From the point of view of the safety of the public I doubt if he should ever be released".

Colin Pitchfork Credit: Police handout

What is the parole board?

The Parole Board describes itself as "an independent body that carries out risk assessments on prisoners to determine whether they can be safely released into the community."

They deal with 25,000 cases a year, of prisoners who have served the punishment determined by the courts.

They have 246 Parole Board members who make the assessments and decisions.

How was the decision to release him made?

The Parole Board panel considered more than 1,100 pages of information, victim statements and heard evidence from Pitchfork - who is now in his 60s - as well as his probation officers, police and a psychologist.

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.

What will his life be like after release?

He will have 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.

He will also be subject to a curfew, have restrictions on using technology and limitations on where he can go.

What happens next?

The decision is provisional for 21 days, subject to the approval of the Justice Secretary who has the power to appeal against the decision.

It is understood the Government will seek legal advice over the decision.

How was he caught?

Pitchfork was the first murderer to be caught using DNA evidence.

And it happened after the world's first mass testing programme.

5,000 men in three villages were asked to volunteer blood or saliva samples.

He tried to avoid the test by convincing a colleague to take it for him, but was overheard talking about the plot, and in January 1988 he was convicted using DNA evidence.

How does the science work?

In 1984, Professor Alec Jeffreys, working at the University of Leicester, discovered that everyone's DNA is different and unique.

He showed that everyone could be identified by their DNA (apart from identical twins).

This knowledge was initially used in immigration and paternity cases, before it was used for the first time in a criminal case - and caught Colin Pitchfork.