Leicestershire Double Murderer Moved To Open Prison

8 June 2016, 17:00

Colin Pitchfork Leicestershire murder DNA

A man who raped and killed two schoolgirls in Leicestershire is to be moved to an open prison.

Colin Pitchfork was jailed for life after strangling the 15-year-olds in 1983 and 1986.

He became the first man convicted of murder on the basis of DNA evidence and was given a 30-year minimum term when sentenced at Leicester Crown Court in 1988.

Pitchfork pleaded guilty to two offences of murder, two of rape, two of indecent assault and one of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The minimum term was cut by two years in 2009.

In April this year the Parole Board concluded that he should not be released but recommended a move to an open prison.

That suggestion has now been approved, the Ministry of Justice confirmed.

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''.

Speaking at the time Pitchfork's minimum term was reduced from 30 years to 28, Lord Judge said 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''.

A petition saying Pitchfork should never be released was backed by nearly 20,000 people.

A Prison Service spokesman said: ``The independent Parole Board decided not to release this offender. Instead it recommended a transfer to open conditions and that recommendation has been accepted.

``Public protection is our top priority and transfers to open conditions can only be made after a thorough, expert, risk assessment carried out.

``A transfer to open prison does not guarantee eventual release in any form - whether that be on a temporary or other form of licence. Before that happens, offenders must meet another stringent set of tests.''