Colin Pitchfork: Double child murderer

The Parole Board must reconsider its decision to allow double child killer Colin Pitchfork to be released from prison.

A judge on Thursday granted Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk’s application challenging last month’s ruling to free the 63-year-old, making a finding of “irrationality”.

A fresh Parole Board hearing to decide whether he can be released will now take place at a date to be fixed.

Pitchfork was jailed for life after raping and strangling Lynda Mann in 1983 and Dawn Ashworth in Leicestershire in 1986. They were both 15 years old.

He was given a minimum sentence of 30 years in 1988, later reduced to 28 years for good behaviour, and was released in September 2021.

He was recalled to prison two months later after approaching young women in the street.

Justice Secretary Mr Chalk’s intervention came after Dawn’s mother, Barbara Ashworth, last month called the Parole Board’s decision to recommend his release “diabolical”.

She told Sky News: “He’s obviously going to have an urge, we just don’t know what’s in his mind.

“I don’t think there’s any way he should be walking the streets. He can’t hurt me anymore but could cause disruption.

“He’s able to make the Parole Board believe whatever he wants to say.”

Dawn Ashworth and Lynda Mann were raped and strangled by Pitchfork

Image: Dawn Ashworth and Lynda Mann were raped and strangled by Pitchfork

Read more: Who is Colin Pitchfork?

Assessing Mr Chalk’s application, a judge at the Parole Board said that while the panel, made up of two judicial members and a psychologist, had correctly reviewed the appropriateness of Pitchfork’s recall and found it was not justified, it separately had to consider whether his detention was necessary for the protection of the public.

The judge found they had not placed sufficient weight on a number of factors in the evidence, which taken together meant the decision was “irrational”.

The judge noted “the task of the panel considering [Pitchfork’s] release was a particularly complex and challenging one”, adding: “It cannot have been assisted by the requirement to consider whether the recall was justified, in addition to the substantive issue of re-release.”

‘Irrational’

Mr Chalk triggered the reconsideration mechanism as he felt there was an arguable case the Parole Board’s decision was irrational.

He said earlier this month: “My thoughts remain with the families of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth, whose lives were changed forever by the heinous crimes of Colin Pitchfork.

“My number one priority is public protection and after careful assessment I have asked the Parole Board to reconsider their decision to release him.

“It is absolutely vital that every lawful step is taken to keep dangerous offenders behind bars.”

Pitchfork was a 22-year-old married father-of-two when he committed his first crime and he was the first man convicted on DNA evidence following a lengthy investigation.

The world’s first mass screening for DNA involved 5,000 men in three villages being asked to volunteer blood or saliva samples.

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