New panel to consider whether double child killer can be freed from prison

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk asked for the Parole Board to reconsider a previous decision to release Colin Pitchfork.

Callum Parke
Friday 15 September 2023 15:46 BST
Colin Pitchfork was jailed in 1988 (PA)
Colin Pitchfork was jailed in 1988 (PA)

A fresh Parole Board panel will re-examine the decision to release the double child rapist and murderer, Colin Pitchfork, next month.

Pitchfork was jailed for life with a minimum term of 30 years in 1988 for raping and strangling 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in Leicestershire.

He later had the minimum term reduced to 28 years for good behaviour and left prison in September 2021 but was recalled to prison two months later for breaching his licence when he approached a lone female while litter-picking.

In June, a Parole Board panel ruled that the decision to recall him to custody was flawed and that it was no longer necessary for him to be detained for the public’s safety.

However in July, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk ruled that the decision should be reviewed by a fresh panel, which the Parole Board confirmed will meet on October 2 and 3 to discuss whether Pitchfork should be released.

A Parole Board spokesperson said: “An oral hearing has been listed for the parole review of Colin Pitchfork and is scheduled to take place in October 2023.

“Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.

“A panel will carefully examine a huge range of evidence, including details of the original crime, and any evidence of behaviour change, as well as explore the harm done and impact the crime has had on the victims.

“Members read and digest hundreds of pages of evidence and reports in the lead-up to an oral hearing.

Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority

Parole Board

Evidence from witnesses including probation officers, psychiatrists and psychologists, officials supervising the offender in prison as well as victim personal statements are then given at the hearing.

“The prisoner and witnesses are then questioned at length during the hearing which often lasts a full day or more.

“Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.”

Pitchfork was the first offender to be convicted using DNA fingerprinting evidence following the murders of Lynda and Dawn in 1983 and 1986 respectively.

The MP for South Leicestershire, Alberto Costa, had previously urged the Justice Secretary to reconsider the decision to release him, stating it was “simply unthinkable”.

Posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday, he said: “I’ve received notice from the Parole Board that Colin Pitchfork will face a fresh Parole Board hearing on October 2nd & 3rd 2023.

“Glad that the Parole Board responded to my campaign to reconsider the awful June 2023 decision to release him.

“Upcoming hearings will be with different panellists than those who initially called for Pitchfork’s release in June.

“Grateful to Justice Secretary @AlexChalkChelt for listening to me and the people of South Leicestershire and applying to have this case reconsidered.

“Colin Pitchfork has caused untold trauma and his crimes live long in the memory of the people of South Leicestershire.

“I hope the Parole Board will make the correct decision this time to keep Colin Pitchfork behind bars.”

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