'I'd throw away the key': Mother's anguish after child murderer Colin Pitchfork given fresh parole hearing

The mother of a victim of child rapist and murderer Colin Pitchfork has expressed her anguish at news there will be another review into the case - declaring: "I know what I'd do, I'd throw away the key".

Pitchfork was jailed for life with a minimum term of 30 years in 1988, later reduced to 28 years, for raping and strangling 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in 1983 and 1986 respectively.

In December, the Parole Board said he was too much of a risk to be released and must stay in prison - but Pitchfork has now successfully applied for that decision to be reconsidered.

Dawn's mother, Barbara Ashworth, said: "Words fail me now. He seems to want to fight no matter what. I just don't know where to go next to be honest.

"He's killed two schoolgirls. I know what I'd do, I'd throw away the key."

Pitchfork was the first man convicted in the UK using DNA evidence.

He will now face another parole hearing, with a different panel of board members, to decide if he can be freed from jail.

Read more: Who is Colin Pitchfork and how was he caught?

In a statement, the Parole Board said: "The decision refusing Mr Pitchfork's release was eligible for reconsideration under the Parole Board Rules.

"This meant that the panel's decision was provisional and that either Mr Pitchfork or the secretary of state could make an application for reconsideration on the grounds that the decision not to release Mr Pitchfork had been irrational, procedurally unfair and/or there had been an error of law."

'Deeply concerning'

Pitchfork's challenge was successful because the parole panel "had a duty to take the prison offender manager's recommendation into account and to give adequate reasons for any disagreement with that recommendation" but the review concluded this had not happened.

The "complete re-hearing" will take place in due course, the Parole Board said.

"Release can only be directed by the Parole Board if the new panel is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that Mr Pitchfork remain confined in prison," it added.

"Mr Pitchfork has, and will continue to, remain in prison until this case has fully concluded."

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Justice Secretary Alex Chalk is reported to be seeking an urgent meeting with the Parole Board in the wake of the decision.

A government source said: "It is deeply concerning that having made one flawed decision, the Parole Board have made another, causing immense distress to the families of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth."

Conservative MP for South Leicestershire, Alberto Costa, who has been campaigning to keep Pitchfork behind bars, accused the Parole Board of having an "utter inability" to properly deal with a "dangerous man".

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: "Our heartfelt sympathies remain with the families of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth at this difficult time."

Pitchfork was initially freed from prison in September 2021 but recalled after two months for approaching young women in the street.

The Parole Board then said the decision to lock him up again was flawed and no longer necessary for public safety.

It recommended his release, but the justice secretary asked it to reconsider following an outcry. The Parole Board then agreed in December it would be too risky to release him.