As double child killer wins right to a new parole hearing three years after he ... trends now

As double child killer wins right to a new parole hearing three years after he ... trends now
As double child killer wins right to a new parole hearing three years after he ... trends now

As double child killer wins right to a new parole hearing three years after he ... trends now

BARBARA Ashworth has carried around memories of her murdered daughter Dawn for so many years now that it is hard to believe she was 15 when she died.

Five weeks after Dawn celebrated her birthday in the summer of 1986, she was raped and strangled by double child killer Colin Pitchfork, a heinous crime which shocked the nation and snatched away Barbara’s adored child.

But while the 78-year-old mother is caught up in a lifetime of relentless grief, Pitchfork is hellbent on getting out of the life sentence he was handed in 1988 for the rape and murders of both Dawn and 15-year-old Lynda Mann, whom he had killed in 1983.

News last week that the ­murderer has won the right to yet another Parole Board hearing has, understandably, devastated the families of both the girls and caused widespread outrage among politicians and ­criminologists alike.

Colin Pitchfork walks the streets on day release in Bristol in 2017

Colin Pitchfork walks the streets on day release in Bristol in 2017

‘There’s just no way he should ever be let out,’ says Barbara. ‘It’s something that never goes away for you, losing a child like that. I just can’t get over it. And every time he is pushing and pushing to get out of jail it brings back all these terrible memories again.’

The Parole Board’s decision to give Pitchfork, 63, another chance to secure his freedom comes less than three years after he was granted parole but then ­dramatically recalled to prison just two and a half months later. The murderer had been spotted talking to a lone woman near the ‘approved premises’ where he stayed during his brief stint on the outside between September and November 2021.

There were claims that he tried to outwit lie detector tests he had agreed to take as part of the ­conditions attached to his release. And there were concerns about the way he indulged in ­‘aimless walking’ — sinister behaviour said to have been a precursor to the ­murders of both Lynda and Dawn in Leicestershire, as well as dozens of other opportunistic sexual assaults and flashings committed by Pitchfork since he was a 14-year-old boy Scout.

During those 2021 rambles in parkland and woods, the killer, who was forced to wear a GPS tracker when he went out, ­occasionally donned a hi-vis jacket and when challenged claimed he was litter picking.

As Barbara puts it: ‘It just ­beggars belief that they are ­considering letting him out again. It’s as if he’s able to make the Parole Board believe whatever he wants to say. A person like him is never safe for release.’

Professor David Wilson, a ­criminologist and former prison governor who has worked alongside some of Britain’s most prolific murderers and on several police investigations, shares this opinion. ‘I’ve seen nothing to convince me that it is safe to release Colin Pitchfork into the community,’ he told me last week.

‘We are talking about a very sophisticated, organised offender. He is calculated, cunning and ­conning. A lot of dangerous offenders cloak themselves in the guise of rehabilitation. And they say the right things and seemingly do the right things and engage in the right behaviour but they’re not rehabilitated at all.’

Indeed, an investigation by the Mail raises new and urgent ­questions about why on earth a killer as devious as Pitchfork is being considered for release at all.

Dawn Ashworth was raped and strangled aged 15 back in 1986

Dawn Ashworth was raped and strangled aged 15 back in 1986

We can reveal that during his ­previous time on parole, which started on September 1, 2021, he was sent to an ‘approved premises’ in Southampton, just a stone’s throw from a primary school and a few minutes walk from the heavily-wooded pathways of Southampton Common.

The 26-room bail hostel has a gym and a garden where former prisoners can grow flowers and vegetables, enjoy music lessons and film groups — with ‘popcorn and movie snacks’ — and take part in a cooking club as well as pool and darts tournaments.

But on his first night there, an arrogant Pitchfork boasted to the hostel manager that she ‘wouldn’t have managed such a high-profile case as his before’ and, disturbingly, left her with the impression that he was enjoying his notoriety.

He was subject to extensive ‘licensing conditions’ which meant, among other things, that he was ‘not to remain in the company of any lone female who is not known to him . . . except where that ­contact is inadvertent and not reasonably avoidable in the course of lawful daily life’.

The Mail can also reveal that, despite wearing a GPS tag, being given a specified curfew and having to comply with an unspecified exclusion zone to avoid contact with victims’ families, women and children, Pitchfork was regularly encountered by women and young girls living close to his hostel ­during the time that he was there.

One 15-year-old schoolgirl told this newspaper that she had seen him while walking home alone from school. Her 38-year-old father said: ‘I know people get a second chance when they get out of jail but I would have liked to have been told there was a murderer living over the road, especially if he killed young girls.’

Pitchfork was also ordered to undergo lie detector tests, as and when they were deemed necessary by his supervising officer.

Lynda Mann was also raped and strangled aged 15 in 1983

Lynda Mann was also raped and strangled aged 15 in 1983

Incredibly, this condition was included by the Parole Board panel because there were ‘concerns as to how transparent, forthcoming and honest he was with professionals and the difficulties they had in ­getting from him any real idea of what was actually going on in his head — whether, for example, he really did no longer continue to have deviant/unhealthy sexual thoughts as he claimed.

There was concern, ­documents seen by the Mail show, that ‘there could be more going on under the surface than he was prepared to reveal’ which couldn’t be spotted without the lie detector.

Additionally, Pitchfork’s frustration at these restrictions led him to become ‘angry and

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