Colin Pitchfork parole hearing to be held in private after 'fresh allegations'

Double child killer Colin Pitchfork's next parole hearing will no longer be held in public after "fresh allegations" emerged, the Parole Board has said.

Pitchfork, who is aged 64, was jailed for life in 1988 for the rape and murder of two 15-year-old girls, Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth, in Leicestershire in 1983 and 1986.

The Parole Board said the parole hearing would no longer be held in public following "fresh allegations in respect of relatively recent conduct", and apologised for the "increased stress" on the victims' families.

The hearing, which was due to take place this month, will now be relisted to be heard in private "in due course".

It is unclear what the allegations cited by the Parole Board refer to.

The hearing could see him released from prison.

Pitchfork, then aged 27, was 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.

He was initially released from prison in September 2021 but was back behind bars two months later after he breached his licence conditions by approaching a lone woman while litter-picking.

A Parole Board hearing was held on Wednesday which discussed "how best to receive evidence in respect of fresh allegations in the case".

"This included the submission of new material to the panel which relates to risk," a spokesperson said.

"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."

They added that their decisions are focused on the risks a prisoner could present to the public if released and whether that would be "manageable" in the community.

"The panel will carefully examine a whole range of evidence, including details of the original crime, and any evidence of behaviour change, as well as understand the harm done and impact the crime has had on the victims," they said.

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

Read more: Who is Colin Pitchfork?

The Parole Board previously said the hearing would be held in public in the "interests of justice".

Pitchfork was 22 years old and a married father-of-two when he committed his first crime.

He has also been convicted of sexually assaulting two more girls and admitted exposing himself to more than 1,000 girls and women.

In December, the Parole Board said it was still too risky to free him. But earlier this year, the killer successfully applied for the decision to be reconsidered.

At the time, 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."