Ministry of Justice to challenge release of double child killer Colin Pitchfork

  • Hannah Stokes reports

The Ministry of Justice says it will challenge the Parole Board's decision to allow double child killer Colin Pitchfork to be released.

Pitchfork was jailed for life after strangling Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in Leicestershire in 1983 and 1986, when they were just 15-years-old.

Following a hearing in March, the Parole Board said he was "suitable for release", despite being denied parole in 2016 and again in 2018.

Pitchfork was moved to an open prison three years ago and began to be allowed out on day release.

After he 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".

Today (25 June) the Ministry of Justice said it would officially appeal against the Parole Board's decision for Pitchfork to be released.

A spokesperson said "heartfelt sympathies remain with the families of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth" and following a review the Lord Chancellor will now ask the Parole Board to reconsider.

Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth were just 15-years-old when they were strangled to death by Pitchfork. Credit: Police handout

Pitchfork was in his 20s at the time of the attacks.

He became the first man convicted of murder on the basis of DNA evidence and was jailed for life at Leicester Crown Court in 1988. He was sentenced to serve a minimum of 30 years.

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. His minimum term was cut by two years in 2009.

The MP for South Leicestershire, Alberto Costa, says he's "relieved" that the government has listened to campaigners, and believes in the cases of truly dreadful crimes, some people may never be suitable for release.

The MoJ will officially appeal on Monday.

The Parole Board is expected to comment on the next steps in the process once that application has been received.