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Ministry of Justice to challenge decision allowing release of child killer Colin Pitchfork

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The Ministry of Justice will challenge the Parole Board decision allowing the release of Colin Pitchfork, who raped and murdered two schoolgirls in the 1980s.

Pitchfork was handed 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 Parole Board cleared Pitchfork as “suitable for release” following a hearing in March.

Schoolgirl Dawn Ashworth was found raped and murdered in the village of Narborough. Pic: Topham/PA Archive/PA Images
Image: Schoolgirl Dawn Ashworth was found raped and murdered in the village of Narborough, Leicestershire

The decision was made despite him being denied freedom at previous hearings in 2016 and 2018.

The MoJ said today that it will officially appeal against the decision on Monday.

A spokesperson said: “Our heartfelt sympathies remain with the families of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth.

“After a careful review, the Lord Chancellor will ask the Parole Board to reconsider its decision.”

More on Ministry Of Justice

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

A court artist's impression of Colin Pitchfork, 48, appealing the length of his sentence at the Court of Appeal in London.
Image: A court artist’s impression of Colin Pitchfork appealing the length of his sentence at the Court of Appeal in London.

He was jailed in 1988 at Leicester Crown Court for the attacks, which happened when he was in his 20s.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of murder, two of rape, two of indecent assault and a further one of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Pitchfork’s minimum term was reduced by two years in 2009.

A document outlining the Parole Board’s decision said: “After considering the circumstances of his offending, the progress made while in custody and the evidence presented at the hearing, the panel was satisfied that Mr Pitchfork was suitable for release.”

The Board considered more than 1,1000 pages of information, together with victim statements.

They also heard evidence from Pitchfork, now in his 60s, as well as his probation officers, police and a psychologist.