MP for South Leicestershire, Alberto Costa has expressed ‘huge concern’ to the Chief Executive of the Parole Board for England and Wales ahead of the upcoming parole hearing for convicted child-killer Colin Pitchfork which was due to take place next week but has now been postponed until December at the earliest.
Alberto recently met with Martin Jones, the Chief Executive of the Parole Board, to discuss Pitchfork’s case and to reiterate the grave concerns of his constituents in South Leicestershire where the crimes took place over 30 years ago.
Pitchfork, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1988 for the rape and murder of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in 1983 and 1986 respectively, was the first person to be convicted using DNA fingerprinting, pioneered by Sir Alec Jeffreys at the University of Leicester.
Pitchfork’s case was most recently refused by the Parole Board in 2018 and since then he has been staying in an open prison. In accordance with the law the Parole Board must review cases every two years.
Ahead of the parole hearing, Alberto has written to the Secretary of State for Justice with his concerns and this material has been provided to the Parole panel overseeing the case.
Alberto said, “I am of course hugely concerned at the prospect of convicted child-killer Colin Pitchfork being released on parole; his abhorrent crimes cast a shadow over parts of South Leicestershire for many years, and while the tragic of murders of Lynda and Dawn were some decades ago, they continue to live long in the memory of many of my constituents. I have consistently raised the issue of public safety with successive Justice Ministers, and with Pitchfork’s hearing now due in just a matter of days, I was pleased to make further representations to the Chief Executive of the Parole Board for England and Wales”.
Mr Jones, the Chief Executive of the Parole Board, said, “I always value meeting Members of Parliament to discuss cases that have the potential to cause significant local concern so I can explain the work of the Parole Board and how we make our decisions. Whilst it is solely for the independent parole panel alone to assess all of the evidence before coming to their decision; the Parole Board will not give a direction for release unless it is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that the prisoner be kept in prison.”
Alberto added, “I was very pleased to receive the Chief Executive’s assurances as to the robust processes in place at the Parole Board; and he has informed that a very experienced panel, headed by a former Crown Court Judge, will be giving careful consideration to Pitchfork’s case. Clearly questions will remain as to whether someone who committed such heinous crimes should ever be released, and I have made my own submissions to the Parole Board on this subject. I share my constituent’s most understandable concerns over the wider public safety in this case and I will of course continue to keep a close eye on further developments in order to ensure that any risk to my constituents and others is carefully managed”.