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Child killer Colin Pitchfork’s parole listening to WON’T be held in public

Double child killer Colin Pitchfork’s next parole hearing will no longer be held in public due to ‘unforeseeable developments including fresh allegations’. 

The Parole Board said on Thursday that the allegations were ‘in respect of relatively recent conduct’ and apologised for the ‘increased stress’ on the families of the victims. It is unclear what the allegations refer to.

Pitchfork was jailed for life in 1988 after raping and strangling two 15-year-olds, Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth, in Leicestershire in 1983 and 1986.

Then aged 27, he became the first man to be convicted in the UK using DNA profiling and was handed a minimum jail term of 30 years, later reduced to 28 years.

Pitchfork, now 64, was initially released from prison in September 2021 but was back behind bars two months later after breaching his licence conditions when he approached a lone woman while litter-picking.

Mugshot of Colin Pitchfork, the first murderer convicted and jailed using DNA evidence

Mugshot of Colin Pitchfork, the first murderer convicted and jailed using DNA evidence 

Dawn Ashworth, 15, was raped and murdered by Pitchfork in 1986 in Leicestershire

Dawn Ashworth, 15, was raped and murdered by Pitchfork in 1986 in Leicestershire 

Lynda Mann was also one of Pitchfork's victims, also being killed and raped in 1983

Lynda Mann was also one of Pitchfork’s victims, also being killed and raped in 1983 

The hearing was due to take place this week but was adjourned, and will now be relisted to be heard in private.

In June last year, the Parole Board found the decision to recall Pitchfork to prison was flawed and said his detention was no longer necessary for public safety. But this ruling was blocked by then-justice secretary Alex Chalk as he called for the decision to release Pitchfork to be reviewed.

Although Pitchfork lost his latest bid for freedom in December, earlier this year he successfully challenged the ruling to keep him behind bars.

It means this upcoming parole hearing, now set to be heard in privately, will decide if he can be freed from jail. 

Parole Board hearings are typically conducted behind closed doors but can, in certain circumstances, take place in public following changes in the law in a bid to remove the secrecy behind the process. 

A spokesperson for the Parole Board said: ‘A panel of the Parole Board held a directions hearing for Colin Pitchfork on Wednesday 10 July. 

‘At that directions hearing the panel and both parties discussed how best to receive evidence in respect of fresh allegations in the case. 

Convicted child killer Pitchfork is seen walking in a local park near young families after his release in 2021

Convicted child killer Pitchfork is seen walking in a local park near young families after his release in 2021

Lynda Mann (pictured) who was raped and murdered by Pitchfork in 1983 when she was just 15

Lynda Mann (pictured) who was raped and murdered by Pitchfork in 1983 when she was just 15

‘This included the submission of new material to the panel which relates to risk.

‘We regret that as a result of material changes in circumstances there has had to be a change of decision in relation to the nature of the hearing, which will no longer be held in public. 

‘It has been caused by unforeseeable developments including fresh allegations in respect of relatively recent conduct.’

The spokesperson added: ‘We would like to apologise again for the increased stress that both the adjournment and the subsequent public hearing decision may have on the victims. Victim involvement is a valued part of the parole process and the victims have been invited to observe some of the private proceedings.

‘The private oral hearing will be relisted in due course.’

The most recent statement from the Parole Board comes after Caroline Corby, chair of the organisation said in May: ‘I have carefully considered Mr Pitchfork’s representations and I have concluded that the interests of justice outweigh the points raised on Mr Pitchfork’s behalf.’

According to a document outlining the decision to have Pitchfork’s case heard in public, the Parole Board said he had changed his name by deed poll a number of times since his conviction due to an apparent ‘desire to protect his identity given the public reaction to his offences and his potential release’.

The name he is currently using has not been disclosed.

Pitchfork raped and murdered Dawn Ashworth (pictured) three years after his first attack

Pitchfork raped and murdered Dawn Ashworth (pictured) three years after his first attack

Kath Eastwood (pictured in 2010) of Leicester holding a picture of her murdered daughter Lynda Mann

Kath Eastwood (pictured in 2010) of Leicester holding a picture of her murdered daughter Lynda Mann 

It is not clear if the families of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth, the two Leicestershire schoolgirls raped and murdered by Pitchfork, have been notified of the Parole Board’s decision to hold the upcoming hearing privately. 

But Dawn’s mother Barbara, who now lives in Cornwall, said she was told last Thursday that the hearing had been delayed.

She told The Mirror: ‘I got told on Thursday but it was through a phone call that was breaking up. I don’t know why it’s been delayed.

‘It’s upsetting, it’s not right and it’s frustrating. I have had one thing after another and I haven’t been in the best of health.’

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said in May then-Justice Secretary Alex Chalk was ‘in full support’ of the hearing taking place in public.

They added: ‘The Lord Chancellor was in full support of this hearing taking place in public which was made possible through our move to increase parole board transparency by removing the ban on open hearings.

‘This Government is reforming the parole system to add a Ministerial check on the release of the most dangerous criminals and we are changing the law so that for society’s most depraved killers, life means life.’

Volunteers take tests to help police find the murderer of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth, January 5, 1987

Volunteers take tests to help police find the murderer of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth, January 5, 1987

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said in May Justice Secretary Alex Chalk (pictured in May) was 'in full support' of Pitchfork's hearing taking place in public

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said in May Justice Secretary Alex Chalk (pictured in May) was ‘in full support’ of Pitchfork’s hearing taking place in public

Pitchfork’s first application for parole was rejected after it emerged that he had been loitering in forests and parks, even approaching lone women during his spell of freedom.

He had been released under ultra-strict licence conditions in June 2021 before being recalled to prison just three months later in September that year.

The killer became eligible for release again in June 2023 but the decision was blocked by the government after pressure from MP Alberto Costa, who represents South Leicestershire where the vile crimes were committed.

In a rare move, the Parole Board agreed to Mr Costa’s request for Pitchfork to face his latest parole hearing in public.

The MP for South Leicestershire, who was recently re-elected, welcomed the decision to hold Pitchfork’s latest parole hearing in public.

The double child-rapist and murderer successfully appealed the December 2023 decision to keep him behind bars triggering a fresh parole hearing this summer.

Mr Costa previously wrote to Parole Board chair Caroline Corby calling for the hearing to be held in public due to his concerns about how the Parole Board has handled Pitchfork’s case.

During the Parole Board hearing last year in which Pitchfork’s bid for release was rejected previously unknown details about why he had been recalled to prison came to light.

The killer became eligible for release again in June 2023 but the decision was blocked by the government after pressure from MP Alberto Costa (pictured), who represents South Leicestershire where the vile crimes were committed

The killer became eligible for release again in June 2023 but the decision was blocked by the government after pressure from MP Alberto Costa (pictured), who represents South Leicestershire where the vile crimes were committed

Artist's file impression of Colin Pitchfork appealing the length of his sentence at the Court of Appeal in London on June 20, 2021

Artist’s file impression of Colin Pitchfork appealing the length of his sentence at the Court of Appeal in London on June 20, 2021

After his release in a town on England’s south coast, on one occasion the monster was spotted by his parole officer approaching a lone female – a direct contravention of his licence term – in the car park directly outside his parole office.

Pitchfork was also said to have spent a lot of time ‘walking aimlessly’ in a forest and parkland areas, where he claimed he was simply picking up litter.

On a different occasion Pitchfork shouted at a parole officer after trying to cheat a polygraph test by controlling his breathing.

During the December hearing the Parole Board was told that prior to Pitchfork’s arrest in 1987 he held ‘deviant fantasies’, felt entitled to sex where and when he wanted, and enjoyed sexual violence against women.

The board’s decision to deny his release was because of a lack of information about Pitchwork’s current attitudes towards sex and ‘protracted and inconsistent explanations from the killer as to why he was recalled to prison’.

Pitchfork killed Lynda in Narborough, Leicestershire, in November 1983, and Dawn in the nearby village of Enderby in July 1986.

Lynda was brutally murdered as she made her way home from babysitting in Narborough.

Dawn disappeared three years later while on a short walk to her home in Enderby.

Her body was discovered dumped in the corner of a field hidden under branches.

Pitchfork was arrested on September 19 1987 and sentenced to life imprisonment the following January after pleading guilty to both murders, with the judge giving him a 30-year minimum term, later reduced to 28 years on appeal.

He was also convicted of having sexually assaulted two more girls, including a 16-year-old who he threatened with a screwdriver and a knife.

Pitchfork, who admitted to having exposed himself to more than 1,000 girls and women, was the first man convicted using DNA evidence.