Colin Pitchfork: why has the child murderer been released from prison in 2021 - and who were his victims?

Pitchfork was jailed for life after raping and strangling two 15-year-old schoolgirls back in the 1980s

Double child killer Colin Pitchfork has been freed from prison after bids to keep him behind bars for longer failed.

Pitchfork was jailed for life after raping and strangling two 15-year-old schoolgirls back in the 1980s.

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Mother of Dawn Ashworth, Barbara, said “he can’t hurt me any more” upon news of his release.

Here’s what you need to know.

Who were Pitchfork’s victims?

Pitchfork became the first man convicted of murder on the basis of DNA evidence in 1988.

He admitted two murders, two rapes, two indecent assaults and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

His victims were Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth, from Leicestershire, back in 1983 and 1986.

Colin Pitchfork, 22 at the time of the first murder, was married with two sons and lived in Littlethorpe - the BBC reports.

Colin Pitchfork was jailed for life after strangling 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in Leicestershire (PA)

While his baby son was sleeping in the back of his car – he killed Lynda Mann in Narborough before driving home and putting his son in bed.

Less than a mile from where Lynda died, he raped and murdered Dawn Ashworth, of Enderby, three years on.

Barbara Ashworth told the PA news agency the decision to allow her daughter’s killer to be released was “disappointing” but “he can’t hurt me any more”.

She added: “I’ve had 33 years of it and it’s all been said and as far as I’m concerned he’s going to be out in amongst the public so it speaks for itself.”

Why has the child murderer been released from prison?

Pitchfork’s 30-year minimum term was cut by two years in 2009 and he was moved to an open prison three years ago.

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

Last month Justice Secretary Robert Buckland asked the board, which is independent of the government, to re-examine the decision under the so-called reconsideration mechanism.

On 13 July, the Parole Board announced the application had been “refused”.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said today: “Our heartfelt sympathies remain with the families of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth following the independent Parole Board’s decision to release Colin Pitchfork.

“Public safety is our top priority, which is why he is subject to some of the strictest licence conditions ever set and will remain under supervision for the rest of his life.

“If he breaches these conditions, he faces an immediate return to prison.”

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