MoJ sorry for saying double child-killer exempt from sex offenders register

The Government department has issued a correction over the terms of Colin Pitchfork’s release from jail.

Colin Pitchfork
Colin Pitchfork

The Ministry of Justice has apologised after wrongly claiming that double child-killer Colin Pitchfork would not have to sign the sex offenders register when released from prison.

The Parole Board decision last week to reject the Government’s challenge against its ruling that Pitchfork can be released from behind bars means he will be freed.

Pitchfork, now in his early 60s, was jailed for life after raping and strangling 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in Leicestershire in 1983 and 1986.

He became the first man convicted of murder on the basis of DNA evidence, in 1988, after admitting two murders, two rapes, two indecent assaults and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The MoJ issued a statement at the weekend saying that Pitchfork would not be placed on the sex offenders register upon release but, in a clarification on Wednesday, said the opposite was true.

The department said it “sincerely apologised” for the error but stressed that the terms of Pitchfork’s lifetime licence will be more stringent than the conditions of the register.

Pitchfork was handed a 30-year minimum term but that was cut by two years in 2009, and he was moved to an open prison three years ago.

Following a hearing in March, the Parole Board ruled he was “suitable for release”, despite this being denied in 2016 and 2018.

Last month Justice Secretary Robert Buckland asked the board, which is independent of the Government, to re-examine the decision under the so-called reconsideration mechanism, but his application was refused.

A spokeswoman for the MoJ said: “Colin Pitchfork has always been eligible for the sex offenders register and will be added to it upon release.

“Additionally, he will be subject to far stricter supervision and conditions as a result of his life licence and if he breaches these, he faces being sent back to prison.”

Those signing the register have to notify police of all foreign travel, if they are living in a household with a minor, and have to provide officers with financial details, such as bank accounts and credit cards, as well as their passport information and national insurance number.

The Government plans to overhaul the parole system, with the findings of a review expected later this year.

It has also sought to change the law so child-killers face life behind bars without parole.

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