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Colin Pitchfork to be freed after 1980s schoolgirl rapes and murders as government loses challenge

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Colin Pitchfork, who raped and murdered two schoolgirls in the 1980s, will be released from prison after the Parole Board rejected a government challenge.

Pitchfork was given a life sentence with a minimum 30-year term after strangling Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth, both 15, in Leicestershire in 1983 and 1986 respectively.

The government had challenged the Parole Board’s decision that Pitchfork was “suitable for release” following a hearing in March.

But in a statement on Tuesday, the board said: “The Parole Board has immense sympathy for the families of Dawn Ashworth and Lynda Mann and recognises the pain and anguish they have endured and continue to endure through the parole process.

Schoolgirl Dawn Ashworth was found raped and murdered in the village of Narborough. Pic: Topham/PA Archive/PA Images
Image: Schoolgirl Dawn Ashworth was one of Pitchfork’s victims. Pic: Topham/PA Archive/PA Images

“However, Parole Board panels are bound by law to assess whether a prisoner is safe to release. It has no power to alter the original sentence set down by the courts.

“Legislation dictates that a panel’s decision must be solely focused on what risk a prisoner may pose on release and whether that risk can be managed in the community.

“As made clear in the reconsideration decision, release was supported by all of the Secretary of State’s witnesses during Mr Pitchfork’s review.”