Colin Pitchfork: Fears over child killer's prison release

Image source, Leicestershire Police
Image caption,
Colin Pitchfork raped and murdered two Leicestershire school girls

A double child killer who was the first person to be convicted using DNA evidence is to be released from prison on unsupervised days out.

Colin Pitchfork, 56, was given a life sentence in 1988 for the rape and murder of 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in Leicestershire.

Lynda's mother fears he is being given the opportunity to kill again.

However, the Ministry of Justice said all offenders must "pass a full risk assessment" before being released.

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
Pitchfork raped 15-year-old Lynda Mann and strangled her with her own scarf
Image caption,
Kath Eastwood, Lynda's mother, said she is "angry beyond belief"

Kath Eastwood, Lynda Mann's mother, said: "I'm so angry that the system is allowing this excuse for a human being, a double child rapist and murderer, [to] be on the streets where he sees the next opportunity to kill again.

"Yes he will be locked up again but what about the devastation that will leave another innocent family?

"I am angry beyond belief that I cannot stop this."

Colin Pitchfork: Two brutal murders

  • Colin Pitchfork, 22 at the time of the first murder, was married with two sons. He was a baker who grew up in rural Leicestershire and lived in Littlethorpe
  • In November 1983 he left his baby son sleeping in the back of his car and raped and strangled 15-year-old Lynda Mann with her own scarf in Narborough. He then drove home and put his son to bed
  • Three years later, less than a mile from where Lynda died, he raped and murdered Dawn Ashworth, also 15, of Enderby. The pathologist who examined her body described it as a "brutal sexual assault"
  • A police investigation initially led to the wrong man, Richard Buckland, a local 17-year-old who falsely confessed to one of the killings. After an unprecedented mass screening of 5,000 men using pioneering "DNA profiling" technology, Pitchfork was eventually caught. At first, Pitchfork had evaded justice by persuading a colleague to take the test for him
  • He pleaded guilty to both murders in September 1987 and was sentenced to life in January 1988. The judge said the killings were "particularly sadistic" and he doubted Pitchfork would ever be released
  • In 2009, his 30-year life tariff was reduced by two years for "exceptional progress" - a decision that was strongly criticised by the families of his victims
  • He was moved to an undisclosed open prison at some point prior to 8 January 2017, after his request for release

Relatives of Pitchfork's victims have been sent letters telling them "a series of unescorted ROTLs" (release on temporary licence) "will be happening in the near future".

Offenders are released on temporary licence towards the end of their sentences.

The Ministry of Justice said it does not comment on individuals.

However, it said in a statement: "All offenders must meet strict criteria and pass a full risk assessment before being considered for release on temporary licence (ROTL).

"Those who fail to comply with the conditions of a ROTL can be returned to closed prisons where they may have to serve additional time."