Mother of Colin Pitchfork victim dismayed as he wins new release hearing | UK news

The mother of one of Colin Pitchfork’s victims has expressed her anger after the rapist and murderer won an appeal for a fresh parole hearing to determine whether he should be released from prison.

Pitchfork was jailed for life with a minimum term of 30 years in 1988, later reduced to 28 years, for raping and strangling Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth, both 15, in 1983 and 1986 respectively.

In December 2023, the Parole Board ruled that he should not be released from prison, but Pitchfork appealed against the decision, and on Monday it was announced he had been successful and will face a new hearing.

Pitchfork was previously released on conditional licence in September 2021, prompting outcry, and was recalled to prison two months later after breaching his licence conditions.

The BBC reported he had been approaching young women while on walks from his bail hostel, and was arrested after probation staff raised concerns about his behaviour.

The justice secretary, Alex Chalk, was seeking an urgent meeting with the Parole Board following the news that Pitchfork would be granted a new hearing with a different panel of board members.

A government source said: “It is deeply concerning that having made one flawed decision, the Parole Board have made another, causing immense distress to the families of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth.

“They are again left with no certainty and the lord chancellor has sought an urgent meeting with the Parole Board.”

Barbara Ashworth, the mother of Dawn, told PA Media: “Words fail me now. He seems to want to fight no matter what.

“I just don’t know where to go next to be honest. He’s killed two schoolgirls. I know what I’d do, I’d throw away the key.”

In a statement, the Parole Board said Pitchfork’s appeal had been successful as “the prison offender manager’s recommendation” needed to be taken into account during the hearing and it had been decided the panel’s “reasoned decision did not do so”.

“The reconsideration member directed that Mr Pitchfork’s case must now be reheard by a fresh panel of three Parole Board members,” it said. “This panel will complete its own review of Mr Pitchfork’s case, including hearing oral evidence and will decide whether he meets the legal test for release.

“Release can only be directed by the Parole Board if the new panel is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that Mr Pitchfork remain confined in prison.”

Alberto Costa, the Conservative MP for South Leicestershire, where the murders took place, accused the Parole Board of making “an irrational decision”.

“Once again, the Parole Board is demonstrating its utter inability to appropriately deal with this dangerous man who we must never forget brutally raped and strangled two young women,” he said, adding that Pitchfork’s “limitless” amount of appeals was “getting to the point of madness”.

The MP said he planned to apply for Pitchfork’s parole hearing to take place in public to ensure proper scrutiny of the decision.

The Parole Board chair, Caroline Corby, previously rejected a similar request meaning the previous hearing took place behind closed doors.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “Our heartfelt sympathies remain with the families of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth at this difficult time.

“This government is reforming the parole system to add a ministerial check on the release of the most dangerous criminals and are changing the law so that for society’s most depraved killers, life means life.”

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