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Colin Pitchfork (March 23rd, 1960 - ) is a British child rapist and murderer who was the first person to be convicted of Murder using DNA fingerprinting evidence and the first person to be caught using mass DNA screening.
On November 21st, 1983, 15-year-old Lynda Mann took a shortcut home from her babysitting job, and was attacked by Pitchfork, who raped her and strangled her to death. Her body was discovered the following day, and police officers managed to extract a semen sample and confirmed via testing that it could only have come from 10% of males, but were unable to identify Pitchfork as the attacker as DNA profiling had not been developed yet. The case was subsequently left on file as a result.
On July 31st, 1986, 15-year-old Dawn Ashworth was attacked by Pitchfork, who beat her, raped her and strangled her to death. The police concluded that the same person had killed Mann and Ashworth, as the modus operandi was the same and the blood type and enzymes came from the same 10% of males, but still did not have the DNA profiling to identify Pitchfork.
In 1985, Alec Jeffreys developed DNA profiling. He then used this to compare semen samples from the murders of Mann and Ashworth, confirming that they were from the same person and that that person was not the prime suspect Richard Buckland. As a result, the police began mass DNA testing, but were at first unable to find a match due to one of Pitchfork's friends posing as him during the testing. However, on August 1st, 1987, a woman overheard the friend talking about this and reported it to the police, resulting in Pitchfork's arrest. His DNA was then matched to the sample found at the crime scenes.
During his interrogation, Pitchfork confessed to over 1000 indecent exposures and sexual assaults. He pleaded guilty to the rapes and murders of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth, and the sexual assault of another woman and was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum of 30 years, later reduced to 28 years on appeal.
On April 22nd, 2016, Pitchfork applied for parole, citing his improved character, and the fact that he had furthered his education to degree level and had become expert at the transcription of printed music into braille, for the benefit of the blind. The families of victims Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth opposed his release on parole.
On April 29th, 2016, the Parole Board announced that Pitchfork's petition for parole had been denied, but they then issued a recommendation that Pitchfork be moved to an open prison. In June 2016, Michael Gove, then serving as Justice Secretary, agreed with the board's recommendation, and at some point prior to January 8th, 2017, Pitchfork was moved to an undisclosed open prison. The Parole Board denied parole again in 2018. He may be eligible for parole again in 2020.
On May 3rd, 2018, Pitchfork was denied parole. The Parole Board said Pitchfork will be eligible for a further review within two years. Lynda's mother said the Parole Board had "listened to us before the murderer". Last year, it emerged Pitchfork would be released from open prison on unsupervised days out. It had been widely expected that Pitchfork could be approaching final release from prison on parole.
In November 2018, Pitchfork was spotted walking around Bristol, so it was assumed that he had been moved to HM Prison Leyhill in Gloucestershire.