THE mum of one of killer Colin Pitchfork’s victims has said he “shouldn’t be breathing the same air as us” now he has been released from prison.
Double child murderer and rapist Pitchfork walked free from HMP Leyhill in Gloucestershire today – but angry families have blasted “life should mean life”.
Child murderer Colin Pitchfork has been released from prisonCredit: Rex
Dawn Ashworth was one of Pitchfork’s victims in the 80s
The monster will live in a probation hostel near unsuspecting families after the Parole Board rejected an appeal against his release.
The Sun revealed last month officials were drawing up plans for his release to ensure he is kept under the toughest supervision possible.
And now, Pitchfork, 61, who raped and strangled two teen girls in the 1980s, has been freed – with officials slapping him with the highest risk rating.
Barbara Ashworth, mother of victim Dawn Ashworth who was raped and murdered by Pitchfork, said: “Well it was on the books that he was going to be released, but I don’t think he should be breathing the same air as us.
“It goes without saying that life should have meant life in his case, because he said he was guilty of the offences, the murders of both the girls and he did a lot more besides.”
Asked if she was surprised Pitchfork had become eligible for release, Ms Ashworth said: “Yes, I think so. They did say that if it had been done today he wouldn’t have been let out.
“But that doesn’t excuse anything. I don’t have my daughter back or any of the hopes and dreams that she had in her life.
“She was my only daughter and you live your life through them and their future – but that was taken away.”
The double killer will have to wear an electronic tag, face restrictions on using the internet and be banned from going near relatives of his victims.
His life licence conditions mean he can be recalled for the slightest breach, and he will also be placed on the sex offenders register
Safeguarding Minister Victoria Atkins MP said: “With any offender of the nature, murderer and rapist, there is a very very strong regime of controls put around that person that once they leave prison.
“There will be very very strong routines, including the police put in place around any person with that background.
“It’s absolutely critical that anyone with those convictions are monitored. If they break rules, measures can be taken.”
But even with stringent controls in place, Ms Ashworth said she will “never put [Pitchfork’s release] out of my mind”.
‘I’M NOT LIVING, JUST EXISTING’
“I recoil every day with people talking about their daughters and grandchildren,” she added.
“It’s with you daily, what you’ve had taken and all that she could have achieved.
“He should never be walking the streets again. The law is the law and what they say goes, but it shouldn’t have come about – he should have been locked away for life without parole as far as I’m concerned.
“It’s an existence, it’s not a life. I’m not living a life, it’s just go from day-to-day.
“Something like this goes to pull the rug from under you and you don’t realise how shattered your life can be when you’ve just had everything taken away.”
I recoil every day with people talking about their daughters and grandchildren.
Pitchfork was jailed in 1988 for the rape and murder of 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth.
His crimes led Leicestershire Police to launch its biggest ever manhunt at the time.
But he evaded arrest until 1987, when a bakery colleague boasted he got £200 to give a blood and saliva sample on behalf of Pitchfork.
The killer was convicted on DNA evidence for the 1983 killing of Lynda Mann in Narborough, south Leicestershire, and the 1986 murder of Dawn Ashworth in nearby Enderby.
Speaking after his conviction, then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Lane, said: “From the point of view of the safety of the public I doubt if he should ever be released.”
Yet Pitchfork, who was the first UK murderer convicted using DNA evidence, saw his minimum term cut from 30 years to 28 in 2009.
‘REMEMBER HIS FACE’
He had been denied parole twice in 2016 and 2018, but in June a panel found he was no longer a danger to the public.
An appeal by Justice Secretary Robert Buckland was rejected by the parole board in July.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Our heartfelt sympathies remain with the families of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth following the independent Parole Board’s decision to release Colin Pitchfork.
“Public safety is our top priority, which is why he will be subject to some of the strictest licence conditions ever set and remain under supervision for the rest of his life.
“If he breaches these conditions, he faces an immediate return to prison.”
Reacting to news of his release, Lynda’s sister, Rebecca Eastwood, wrote on Facebook: “It is now official he is out. I just can’t get my head around it.”
She also posted a picture of Pitchfork on day release in 2017, adding: “Please remember this face. He has raped and murdered two 15-year-old girls and is now walking free to start a new life somewhere in the UK, this could be anywhere.
“So please remember his face and stay clear of him and keep your children safe! There is no way a man who committed these crimes can change!”
I am extremely saddened and deeply disappointed that the convicted child rapist and killer Colin Pitchfork has today been released from prison.
Rebecca, of Liverpool, said the families of Pitchfork’s victims weren’t told where he is now living “for his safety”, and thanked supporters who had signed a petition in a bid to keep him in jail.
South Leicestershire MP Alberto Costa, who has campaigned against Pitchfork’s release, said he was “extremely saddened and deeply disappointed” that Pitchfork has been released.
“Since I was first elected MP for South Leicestershire, where Pitchfork’s heinous crimes took place, I have worked tirelessly on behalf of my constituents and countless others to oppose his release,” he said.
“While I respect the Parole Board’s decision to reject the Government’s challenge against his release, I do not agree with it. In my view, Pitchfork still presents a very real danger to the public.
“This case has made clear that the Parole Board’s opaque practices and processes must be reformed, and the system must work better for victims and their families, and I very much look forward to helping to shape the system for the better in the Government’s forthcoming root-and-branch review of the Parole Board.
“Questions will, of course, remain as to whether someone who has committed such heinous crimes should ever be released, in cases such as these where two innocent girls were murdered in the most horrendous fashion, life should simply mean life.
“My thoughts today, as ever, are with the families of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth.”
Lynda Mann was murdered in 1983 at Narborough, Leics
Barbara Ashworth said she hopes ‘no other girl meets the same fate’Credit: BPM
Pitchfork was pictured on day release in 2017