Double child rapist and murderer Colin Pitchfork will face a fresh parole hearing

Colin Pitchfork

Double child rapist and murderer Colin Pitchfork will face a fresh parole hearing after successfully challenging a decision to keep him behind bars.

Pitchfork was jailed for life with a minimum term of 30 years in 1988, later reduced to 28 years, for raping and strangling 15-year-old Leicestershire school girls Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in 1983 and 1986 respectively.

The Parole Board met last year to decide whether he could be released and ruled in December he should not be freed.

But Pitchfork applied for the decision to be reconsidered and this has been granted, the Parole Board said on Monday 12 Febrary.

It means he will face another parole hearing to decide if he can be freed from jail.

Dawn Ashworth and Lynda Mann, who were both 15, were raped and strangled by Pitchfork in 1983 and 1986. Credit: Leicestershire Police

In a statement the Parole Board said: “The decision refusing Mr Pitchfork’s release was eligible for reconsideration under the Parole Board Rules.

“This meant that the panel’s decision was provisional and that either Mr Pitchfork or the Secretary of State could make an application for reconsideration on the grounds that the decision not to release Mr Pitchfork had been irrational, procedurally unfair and/or there had been an error of law.

“Mr Pitchfork made an application for reconsideration in December 2023 and this was considered and granted by a reconsideration member of the Parole Board in February 2024.

“The reason the reconsideration application was granted was that the oral hearing panel in 2023 had a duty to take the prison offender manager’s recommendation into account and to give adequate reasons for any disagreement with that recommendation. The reconsideration member concluded that the panel’s reasoned decision did not do so.

“The reconsideration member directed that Mr Pitchfork’s case must now be reheard by a fresh panel of three Parole Board members. This panel will complete its own review of Mr Pitchfork’s case, including hearing oral evidence and will decide whether he meets the legal test for release. The reconsideration member advised the new panel that the fact that this is a reconsideration should not in any way affect their decision. It is a complete re-hearing.

“Release can only be directed by the Parole Board if the new panel is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that Mr Pitchfork remain confined in prison. Mr Pitchfork has, and will continue to, remain in prison until this case has fully concluded.”

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “Our heartfelt sympathies remain with the families of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth at this difficult time.“

"This Government is reforming the parole system to add a ministerial check on the release of the most dangerous criminals and are changing the law so that for society’s most depraved killers, life means life.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...