Colin Pitchfork: Victim's sister says killer's prison recall is like 'winning lottery'

Double murderer, Colin Pitchfork, has been recalled to prison after officials raised concerns about his behaviour.

The sister of one of Colin Pitchfork's victims has told ITV the killer is "back where he belongs".

Sue Gatrick, sister of Lynda Mann who was murdered by Pitchfork in 1983, appeared on ITV's Good morning Britain to share her reaction to Pitchfork's return to prison.

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

His 30-year minimum term was cut by two years in 2009, he was moved to an open prison three years ago and was then released in September.

But just two months later, Pitchfork, now in his 60s, is back behind bars after probation staff raised concerns about his behaviour and amid concerns he may have been trying to cheat lie detector tests.

He is understood to have approached young women on multiple occasions while out on walks from the bail hostel where he was living and was thought to be trying to establish a connection with them.

Pitchfork was also observed to generally have a "bad attitude" because he was not as engaging and open with officials as they would want him to be.

There were also suggestions that while taking part in polygraph tests, which he is subjected to as part of his licence conditions, he may have been trying to counteract the results.

Although officials said Pitchfork was not recalled for committing any further offences, the step was taken as a preventative measure after the string of incidents raised fears of a concerning pattern of behaviour.

The decision to release Pitchfork prompted a public outcry amid attempts to keep him behind bars.

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

When those failed, he was subjected to more than 40 licence conditions, which the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) described as some of the strictest "ever set".

Following a hearing in March, the Parole Board ruled Pitchfork was "suitable for release", despite this being denied in 2016 and 2018.

The board, which is independent of the Government, said it relies "heavily" on the evidence from professional witnesses who monitor and work closely with an offender.

Officials including probation officers and a prison psychologist "all supported his release", the board said, adding that the then justice secretary Robert Buckland was represented at the hearing and “did not oppose release” at that time.

Then in June, in the wake of public concern about the release, Mr Buckland asked the board to re-examine the decision under the so-called reconsideration mechanism.

Schoolgirl Dawn Ashworth, 15, was found raped and murdered in the village of Narborough, Leicestershire Credit: Topham/PA

But the Parole Board rejected the Government’s challenge against its ruling the following month, announcing that the application to reconsider the decision had been refused.

Concerns had been raised by professionals he worked with about his capacity to “manipulate and deceive”.

While out on temporary licence, Pitchfork tried to get access to a smartphone, gave a female shopworker chocolates and told her lies.

But senior Parole Board judge Michael Topolski QC, who considered the application to review the decision, found officials did not find this “made him unsuitable for release”.

Pitchfork’s case now has to be referred to the Parole Board within 28 days.

New Justice Secretary Dominic Raab is said to be looking closely at Parole Board reforms Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

Sometimes the circumstances of a recall to prison are considered “on paper”, meaning by solely reviewing documents.

But given the seriousness of this case, there will most likely be a parole hearing.

This is anticipated to take place within six months and will determine whether Pitchfork should stay in a closed prison, be transferred to an open prison or be released.

If he is not freed after that hearing, his next parole review would be in about two years’ time.

The Government plans to overhaul the parole system.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab is said to be looking closely at the proposals, with the findings of a review now anticipated next year.

Ministers have also sought to change the law so child killers face life behind bars without parole.

A Parole Board spokesman said: "We fully support any recommendations which will allow us to improve the openness and transparency around the Parole Board’s judicial decision-making and improve access to the process for victims."