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Government to challenge release of double child killer Colin Pitchfork

Colin Pitchfork, now in his early 60s, was the first murderer to be convicted on DNA evidence in 1988, after violently raping and strangling two 15-year-olds in Leicestershire (Picture: PA)

The Government is set to ask the Parole Board to reconsider its decision to release double child killer Colin Pitchfork. 

It comes after the murderer was deemed ‘suitable for release’ following a hearing in March this year, after being denied parole in 2016 and 2018. 

Pitchfork, now in his early 60s, was the first man to be convicted of murder on DNA evidence in 1988, after violently raping and strangling two 15-year-olds in Leicestershire.

The baker and cake decorator raped and killed his first victim Lynda Mann in 1983 while his baby son slept in his car, which was parked nearby. 

He later violently raped and strangled Dawn Ashworth in 1986, as she walked home.

He was handed two life sentences with a minimum term of 30 years, which was reduced to 28 years in 2009. And now following the Parole Board’s ruling, he could be released imminently.

The Parole Board is independent from the Government, but its rulings can be challenged via the reconsideration mechanism (Picture: PA)

But Justice Secretary Robert Buckland is expected to formally ask the board on Monday to reconsider its decision. 

In a statement the MoJ said: ‘Our heartfelt sympathies remain with the families of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth.

‘After a careful review, the Lord Chancellor will ask the Parole Board to reconsider its decision.’

The Parole Board is independent from the Government, but its rulings can be challenged via the reconsideration mechanism. 

Since July 2019, people have been allowed to appeal the board’s rulings if they see them as ‘procedurally unfair’ or ‘irrational’ – however being unhappy with a decision ‘is not grounds for reconsideration’, the provision states. 

It is believed Mr Buckland will argue that the decision on Pitchfork was irrational. 

The board will analyse its ruling once it receives the application from the MoJ on Monday before deciding whether or not to reconsider. 

However there is a high threshold that must be met.

South Leicestershire MP Alberto Costa welcomed the MoJ’s move. 

He said: ‘I am delighted that the Lord Chancellor has agreed with me that the decision by the Parole Board was arguably incorrect and that the board should be invited to reconsider that decision.

The Parole Board had heard how Pitchfork had taken part in courses during his sentence to address his behaviour and that he had learnt new skills, including how to help disabled people (Picture: PA)

‘The reconsideration mechanism was introduced in Parliament in 2019 and that’s why I invited the Secretary of State for Justice to fire it back to the Parole Board, to reconsider the appalling decision they’ve taken to release the double child killer Colin Pitchfork.’

Mr Costa added: ‘Pitchfork’s egregious crimes cast a shadow over my constituency and are known throughout the country for the way in which he callously raped and horrifically murdered those two innocent teenage girls, Lynda and Dawn.

‘The national outrage following the Parole Board’s decision a few weeks ago is proof that many people remain haunted by his abhorrent and heinous crimes.’

A document detailing the Parole Board decision said: ‘After considering the circumstances of his offending, the progress made while in custody and the evidence presented at the hearing, the panel was satisfied that Mr Pitchfork was suitable for release.’

The panel heard how Pitchfork had taken part in courses during his sentence to address his behaviour. 

His behaviour in custody was ‘positive’ and included ‘extensive efforts to help others’, the panel heard, including learning skills to help disabled people. 

According to the document, at the time of his offending Pitchfork thought ‘about sex a lot’, used ‘violence and excessive force’ and ‘sex to demonstrate power and control over women’.

He also struggled to cope with anger, loneliness and had a willingness to ‘seek revenge’.

Pitchfork’s release would be subject to strict licence conditions.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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