Double child killer Colin Pitchfork arrested after being released from prison

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 (PA)
(PA)

Double child killer Colin Pitchfork has been arrested and recalled to prison after he was released two months ago, the Ministry of Justice has said.

Pitchfork, 61, was jailed for life in 1988 for the rape and murder of two schoolgirls in Leicestershire.

It is understood he was returned to custody on Friday over a breach of his licence conditions, and his re-release will be a matter for the Parole Board.

The serial killer faces spending time in another closed jail just two months after his first experience of freedom in 33 years.

He was not recalled for committing any further offences but because officers identified “concerning behaviours” and preventative measures were taken, it is believed.

A Probation Service spokesperson said: “Protecting the public is our number one priority so when offenders breach the conditions of their release and potentially pose an increased risk, we don’t hesitate to return them to custody.”

Pitchfork strangled Lynda Mann, 15, in 1983 and 15-year-old Dawn Ashworth three years later.

Dawn’s mother Barbara Ashworth said she is “pleased” Pitchfork has been reincarcerated.

Schoolgirl Dawn Ashworth (PA)
Schoolgirl Dawn Ashworth (PA)

“I’m pleased that he’s been put away and women and girls are safe and protected from him now,” she said.

“It’s a safer place when he’s behind bars and I won’t have to worry about other people being hurt by him for the time being.

“But there’s always the worry that he might get out again, he seems to have a lot of people on his side who give him the benefit of the doubt.”20 Jun 2021

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

Bids to set him free from prison were rejected in 2016 and 2018, but the Parole Board decided he was “suitable for release” in March this year.

The decision prompted a public outcry amid efforts to keep him behind bars.

When those failed, he was subjected to more than 40 licence conditions, which the Ministry of Justice described as some of the strictest “ever set”.

Artist's file impression of Colin Pitchfork, 48, appealing the length of his sentence at the Court of Appeal in London (PA)
Artist's file impression of Colin Pitchfork, 48, appealing the length of his sentence at the Court of Appeal in London (PA)

In June, the then Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland, asked the board, which is independent of the Government, to re-examine the decision under the so-called reconsideration mechanism.

But the Parole Board rejected the Government challenge against its ruling the following month, announcing that the application to reconsider the decision had been refused.

Mr Buckland expressed his disappointment but said he respected the decision.

Pitchfork was released in September and returned to custody on November 19.

Typically there are seven standard conditions for offenders leaving prison but Pitchfork had to meet a further 36 requirements.

He is on the sex offenders’ register and had to live at a designated address, be supervised by probation, wear an electronic tag, take part in lie detector tests, and disclose what vehicles he uses and who he spoke to, while also facing particular limits on contact with children.

He was subject to a curfew, had restrictions on using technology, and faced limitations on where he could go.

The Government plans to overhaul the parole system, with the findings of a review expected later this year.

It has also sought to change the law so child killers face life behind bars without parole.

South Leicestershire MP Alberto Costa, who has campaigned against Pitchfork‘s release from prison, said his recall shows licence conditions are “working”.

“Pitchfork‘s behaviour has given sufficient cause for concern to the probation authorities,” he said.

“Pitchfork is under the most stringent of licence conditions and perhaps this recall evidences that those conditions are working.”

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