Double child killer Colin Pitchfork recalled to prison

Release two months ago caused outcry with mother of victim saying 'life should have meant life'

Colin Pitchfork was released in September. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Double child killer Colin Pitchfork has been arrested and recalled to prison, the Ministry of Justice said, after he was released two months ago.

It is understood he was returned to custody on Friday over a breach of his licence conditions – which he had agreed to observe on his release – and his re-release will be a matter for the Parole Board.

It is understood that his behaviour was a cause for concern for probation officers who were monitoring him under a strict regime.

A Probation Service spokesperson said: “Protecting the public is our number one priority so when offenders breach the conditions of their release and potentially pose an increased risk, we don’t hesitate to return them to custody.”

There was an outcry when Pitchfork, who raped and murdered two schoolgirls in the 1980s, was released from prison in September following an unsuccessful campaign to keep him behind bars.

Pitchfork, now in his early 60s, received a life sentence for raping and killing Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth, both 15, in Leicestershire in 1983 and 1986.

It is understood the breach of his licence conditions did not involve a fresh criminal act and nor did it require police to become involved, other than to arrest him so he could be returned to prison.

Officials declined to say what the concerning behaviour was and it is understood that the families of his victims were being contacted to be briefed.

Typical licence conditions for an offender as serious as Pitchfork include regular reporting to police and probation, restrictions on where they can go, and declaring all electronic devices in their possession.

At the time of his release, Dawn’s mother, Barbara Ashworth, spoke out against the decision to free him, saying “life should have meant life”.

On Friday, she told the PA news agency: “I’m pleased that he’s been put away and women and girls are safe and protected from him now. It’s a safer place when he’s behind bars and I won’t have to worry about other people being hurt by him for the time being. But there’s always the worry that he might get out again, he seems to have a lot of people on his side who give him the benefit of the doubt. But for now, I have to be pleased about the news.”

He was the first man convicted of murder on the basis of DNA evidence in 1988 when he confessed to his crimes.

The Parole Board ruled he was “suitable for release” at a hearing in March, despite this being denied in 2016 and 2018. He was placed on the sex offender register and subject to other licence conditions.

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