Fury as killer who murdered two teenage schoolgirls to be freed from prison

A Conservative MP has slammed the release of a man jailed for raping and murdering two schoolgirls, say that although Colin Pitchfork’s crimes were committed some 30 years ago, they are not "the sort of crime that one can ever forget".

Colin Pitchfork was jailed for life after strangling 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in Leicestershire in 1983 and 1986.

A hearing took place in March to consider whether he was suitable for release and the decision was published on Monday.

Pitchfork, then in his 20s, became the first man convicted of murder on the basis of DNA evidence. He was jailed for life, with a minimum term of 30 years, at Leicester Crown Court in 1988.

Pitchfork was eventually caught after the world's first mass screening for DNA after 5,000 men in three villages were asked to volunteer blood or saliva samples.

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

Pitchfork was denied parole in 2016 and in 2018 but moved to an open prison three years ago.

A document detailing the Parole Board 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 panel hears from the victims’ families, police officers, and a psychologist as well as Pitchfork himself.

According to the document, at the time of his offending Pitchfork thought "about sex a lot", used "violence and excessive force" and "sex to demonstrate power and control over women".

He also struggled to cope with anger, loneliness and had a willingness to "seek revenge".

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During his time behind bars, he has taken part in several courses, and the panel heard Pitchfork's "behaviour in custody had been positive and had included extensive efforts to help others", including learning skills to help disabled people, the document said.

Pitchfork's release is subject to a range of strict licence conditions, including an ankle tag, limitations on his freedom of movement, and he will face particular limits on contact with children.

South Leicestershire MP Alberto Costa, who raised concerns about Pitchfork's release with the Parole Board, said he was "appalled" by the decision and freeing him would be "dangerous".

The Conservative MP told the BBC: "Even though some 30 years have passed, this isn't the sort of crime that one can ever forget."

He accused the Parole Board of "playing politics" and said he would be lobbying the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland.

The decision is provisional for 21 days, subject to the approval of the Justice Secretary who has the power to appeal against the decision.

It is understood the Government will seek legal advice over the decision.

A Parole Board spokesman said: "Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.

"Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority."

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