Child killer who raped and murdered two schoolgirls to be allowed out on UNSUPERVISED day release
A NOTORIOUS double child killer is to be allowed out from prison on unsupervised day trips.
Colin Pitchfork was jailed for life in 1988 for the rape and murder of schoolgirls Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in Leicestershire.
The 55-year-old was the first person convicted of a crime based on DNA fingerprinting evidence, and the first to be caught as a result of mass DNA screening.
Earlier this year, decisions to move Pitchfork to an open prison and then grant him visits out with a guard sparked anger among the relatives of his victims.
But now they have been told “a series of unescorted releases on temporary licence will be happening in the near future.”
Prison authorities claim a “robust risk management plan will be in place.”
But Lynda’s sister, Rebecca Eastwood, said her family was outraged by the latest development – and still considered Pitchfork a “danger to the public”.
She said: “It’s only a couple of months since we were told that he was being allowed out under the escort of a guard.
“The news he is to be allowed out without an escort has come as a real shock to us. It all seems to be moving so quickly.
“If it carries on like this, it’s only going to be a matter of months before he’s allowed out on his own for weeks at a time.
“When he is out on his own he will be able to speak to people and they will have no idea who he is and what he has done.
“He is not allowed in Leicestershire or to approach any of us.
“But we don’t know what he looks like now or even what part of the country he is in.
“He’s still in his 50s. He still has a lot of time ahead of him and we still think he is a danger to the public.”
A letter to the families from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) stated: “The offender is now progressing through the process and is reaching the next significant stage, which will be unescorted day release.
“This has been approved and the series of unescorted releases on temporary licence will be happening in the near future.
“There will be a robust risk management plan in place.”
Pitchfork moved to an open prison, the location of which was not revealed to his victim’s families, after an assessment by probation officers and other specialists found him to be a suitable candidate.
More than 20,000 people have signed an online petition, set up by Lynda’s family, to call for his release to be blocked – with a further 7,000 signing a paper version.
Pitchfork raped and strangled Lynda, 15, in November 1983. The teenager had left her home to visit a friend – but never returned.
Her body was found the next morning on a deserted footpath.
Three years later, Pitchfork, who worked as a baker, struck again – killing and raping Dawn in almost identical circumstances.
Her body was found less than a mile from where Lynda had been attacked.
After Dawn’s killing, Leicestershire Police launched the largest manhunt in its history, asking more than 5,000 local men to volunteer blood or saliva samples in a bid to match samples taken from the crime scenes.
No matches were found, but in 1987 a bakery colleague was overheard boasting that he’d received £200 for giving a sample while posing as Pitchfork.
Double child killers case is up for parole
The Parole Board has begun reviewing the case of the first man to be convicted of murder on the basis of DNA evidence.
Colin Pitchfork was jailed for life in 1988 for killing two schoolgirls in Narborough and Enderby.
He received a 30-year minimum term which was cut to 28 years in 2009.
Pitchfork was brought up in Newbold Verdon and lived in Littlethorpe at the time of the attacks.
ITV recently broadcast a drama about the murders which was called Code of a Killer.
A spokesman for the Parole Board said: “We can confirm that the Secretary of State for Justice has referred the case of Colin Pitchfork to the Parole Board for a review of his suitability for release. If the Board does not direct his release, it has been asked to advise the Secretary of State on his suitability for open conditions (Category D prison).”
Once a case has been referred to the Board, it usually takes around six months before a decision is issued.
Pitchfork argued at his appeal against sentence that the 30 years was “manifestly” excessive.
He was jailed at Leicester Crown Court in 1988 after pleading guilty to two offences of murder, two of rape, two of indecent assault and one of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Announcing the decision to reduce the minimum term by two years in 2009, the then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, said the appeal was being allowed to a “very restricted and limited extent relating to exceptional progress in custody”.
He emphasised that the decision “has no bearing whatever on the continuing effect of the sentence of life imprisonment on the appellant”.
The judge added: “He cannot be released unless and until the safety of the public is assured.”
Pitchfork’s first victim was 15-year-old Lynda Mann, of Narborough, who was murdered in 1983. Dawn Ashworth, also 15, from Enderby, was killed in 1986. Both girls were raped and strangled.
After the world’s first mass screening for DNA – where 5,000 men in three villages were asked to volunteer blood or saliva samples – he was eventually caught.
The Lord Chief Justice at the time said after he was jailed that “from the point of view of the safety of the public I doubt if he should ever be released”.
Lord Judge said in 2009 that Pitchfork’s progress since he was first incarcerated “goes far beyond general good behaviour and positive response to his custodial sentence, but reflects very creditable assistance to disabled individuals outside the prison system”.
He added: “On the evidence before us he has sought to address the reasons behind the commission of these offences. He has achieved a high standard of education, to degree level.
“In 20 years in custody he has never been placed on report and he is trusted to help with the well-being of fellow inmates.”
Lord Judge said: “Beyond all that he has made himself a specialist in the transcription of printed music into Braille, thus using the opportunities he has taken to educate himself in prison to the benefit of others.
“This is an intensely specialised skill and his work is used throughout this country and internationally with the support of the RNIB.”
Lord Judge said the court could not “identify any sufficient reason” why the exceptional progress made “should not be recognised and given practical effect in the assessment now to be made of the minimum term to be served by the appellant”, and reduced it by two years
Colin Pitchfork (born March 1960, Newbold Verdon, England) is a British criminal, the first convicted of murder based on DNA fingerprinting evidence, and the first to be caught as a result of mass DNA screening.
Pitchfork raped and murdered two girls, the first in Narborough, Leicestershire, in November 1983, and the second in Enderby, also in Leicestershire, in July 1986. He was arrested on 19 September 1987, and sentenced to life imprisonment on 22 January 1988, after admitting both murders.
Pitchfork lived in Newbold Verdon, attending school in Market Bosworth and Desford, until his marriage in 1981, after which he lived in Littlethorpe.
On 21 November 1983, 15-year-old Lynda Mann left her home to visit a friend’s house. She did not return. The next morning, she was found raped and strangled on a deserted footpath known locally as the Black Pad. Using forensic science techniques available at the time, police linked a semen sample taken from her body to a person with type A blood and an enzyme profile that matched only 10 percent of males. With no other leads or evidence, the case was left open.
Pitchfork (pic) in his teens
On 31 July 1986, another 15-year-old girl, Dawn Ashworth, took a shortcut instead of taking her normal route home. Two days later, her body was found in a wooded area near a footpath called Ten Pound Lane. She had been beaten, savagely raped, and strangled to death. The modus operandi matched that of the first attack, and semen samples revealed the same blood type.
The prime suspect was a local 17-year-old youth, Richard Buckland, who revealed knowledge of Ashworth’s body, and admitted the crime under questioning, but denied the first murder. Alec Jeffreys, of the University of Leicester, had recently developed DNA profiling along with Peter Gill and Dave Werrett of the Forensic Science Service (FSS) and detailed the technique in a 1985 paper.
I was responsible for developing all of the DNA extraction techniques and demonstrating that it was possible after all to obtain DNA profiles from old stains. The biggest achievement was developing the preferential extraction method to separate sperm from vaginal cells – without this method it would have been difficult to use DNA in rape cases.
Using this technique, Jeffreys compared semen samples from both murders against a blood sample from Buckland which conclusively proved that both girls were killed by the same man, but not Buckland. The police then contacted the FSS to verify Jeffreys’ results and decide which direction to take the investigation. Buckland became the first person to have his innocence established by DNA fingerprinting.
Jeffreys later said:
I have no doubt whatsoever that he would have been found guilty had it not been for DNA evidence. That was a remarkable occurrence.
The Leicestershire Constabulary and the FSS then undertook an investigation in which 5,000 local men were asked to volunteer blood or saliva samples. This took six months, and no matches were found.
Later, a man named Ian Kelly was heard bragging that he had obtained £200 for giving a sample while masquerading as his friend, Colin Pitchfork, a local baker. On September 19, 1987 Pitchfork was arrested at his home in Haybarn Close, in the neighbouring village of Littlethorpe and a sample was found to match that of the killer. During subsequent questioning, Pitchfork admitted to flashing females over 1000 times, a compulsion that he had started in his early teens. Flashing led to sexual assault and then to strangling his victims in order to protect his identity. He pleaded guilty to the two rape/murders in addition to another incident of sexual assault that he had committed. Pitchfork was preparing to move to Littlethorpe at the time of the murder of Lynda Mann, and resided at Haybarn Close in Littlethorpe at the time of the murder of Dawn Ashworth. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and concurrent terms for rape and murder, but with no minimum sentence (thus, presenting the opportunity for release after ten years).
On 14 May 2009, after an initial adjournment on 30 April 2009, Pitchfork’s legal appeal was heard at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. He won a two-year reduction in his original sentence of a minimum 30 years’ imprisonment. As a consequence, Pitchfork will now be eligible for release in 2016. The Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge stated, however, that “he cannot be released unless and until the safety of the public is assured.” The court heard that Pitchfork is now educated to degree level and had become expert at the transcription of printed music into Braille, hoping one day to be able to help the blind. This evidence was presented by his legal representatives as evidence of the development of his character while incarcerated.
In April 2009, a sculpture that Pitchfork had produced in prison was exhibited at the Royal Festival Hall. Following outrage in The Daily Mail, it was removed from display.