Colin Pitchfork: double child killer sent back to jail after approaching young women

Colin Pitchfork who raped and strangled 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in 1983 and 1986 was released two months ago

Colin Pitchfork, now in his early 60s, was jailed for life after raping and strangling 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in Leicestershire in 1983 and 1986.

Double child killer Colin Pitchfork was arrested and sent back to prison after approaching young women in the street and there were concerns he may have been trying to cheat lie detector tests.

Pitchfork was recalled to prison two months after he was released for breaching his licence conditions.

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He was jailed for life after raping and strangling 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in Leicestershire in 1983 and 1986.

At a glance: 5 key points

  • Pitchfork was arrested and recalled to prison after breaching terms of release
  • He was released in September despite public outcry
  • He had been jailed for life with a minimum 30-year term, which was cut by two years in 2009
  • It was understood he approached young women on multiple occasions
  • Mum of one of his victims said it was safer when he was in jail

His 30-year minimum term was cut by two years in 2009, he was moved to open prison HMP Leyhill in Gloucestershire three years ago, and then released in September.

He is understood to have approached young women on multiple occasions while out on walks from the bail hostel where he was living and was thought to be trying to establish a connection with them.

Pitchfork, now in his early 60s, was also observed to generally have a “bad attitude” because he was not as engaging and open with officials as they would want him to be.

There were also suggestions that, while taking part in polygraph tests, which he is subjected to as part of his licence conditions, he may have tried to counteract the results by controlling and altering his physical responses with breathing techniques but this was spotted by staff.

Although officials said Pitchfork was not recalled for committing any further offences, the step was taken as a preventative measure after the string of incidents raised fears of a concerning pattern of behaviour.

‘It’s a safer place when he’s behind bars’

Pitchfork’s case now has to be referred to the Parole Board within 28 days.

Sometimes the circumstances of a recall to prison are considered “on paper”, meaning by solely reviewing documents.

But given the seriousness of this case, there will most likely be a parole hearing.

This is anticipated to take place within six months and will determine whether Pitchfork should stay in a closed prison, be transferred to an open prison or be released.

A Probation Service spokesperson said: “Protecting the public is our number one priority so when offenders breach the conditions of their release and potentially pose an increased risk, we don’t hesitate to return them to custody.”

Barbara Ashworth, the mother of Pitchfork’s victim, Dawn Ashworth, said: “I’m pleased that he’s been put away and women and girls are safe and protected from him now.

“It’s a safer place when he’s behind bars and I won’t have to worry about other people being hurt by him for the time being.

“But there’s always the worry that he might get out again, he seems to have a lot of people on his side who give him the benefit of the doubt.

“But for now, I have to be pleased about the news.”

Release had caused a public outcry

The decision to release Pitchfork prompted a public outcry amid attempts to keep him behind bars. When those failed, he was subjected to more than 40 licence conditions, which the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) described as some of the strictest “ever set”.

Following a hearing in March, the Parole Board ruled that Pitchfork was “suitable for release”, despite this being denied in 2016 and 2018.

In June, the then Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland, asked the board, which is independent of the Government, to re-examine the decision under the so-called reconsideration mechanism.

But the Parole Board rejected the Government challenge against its ruling the following month, announcing that the application to reconsider the decision had been refused.

Typically there are seven standard conditions for offenders leaving prison but Pitchfork had to meet a further 36 requirements.

He is on the sex offenders’ register and had to live at a designated address, be supervised by probation, wear an electronic tag, take part in polygraph – lie detector – tests, and disclose what vehicles he uses and who he spoke to, while also facing particular limits on contact with children.

He was subject to a curfew, had restrictions on using technology, and faced limitations on where he could go.

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