Colin Pitchfork murders: How old is the convicted murderer, who was the man who raped and killed two schoolgirls?

A monstrous child killer who was the first murderer ever to be convicted using DNA evidence in Britain can be released on parole.

Undated police handout file photo of Colin Pitchfork, who was jailed for life after strangling 15-year-olds Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in Leicestershire in 1983 and 1986. Picture: Handout/PA Wire

Colin Pitchfork was jailed for life in 1988 after murdering and raping two schoolgirls in Leicestershire but can now be released on parole, the Parole Board confirms.

Mr Pitchfork was the first person in Britain to be convicted by DNA fingerprint evidence after the rape and murder of 15-year-old Lynda Mann in 1983 and Dawn Ashworth in 1986 led to a manhunt by Leicestershire Police.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

After serving almost 34 years of his life sentence, Mr Pitchfork can now be released on parole following the decision announced by the Parole Board today (June 7).

The decision comes after multiple parole reviews were submitted by Mr Pitchfork in 2016, 2017 and 2018 - when Mr Pitchfork’s request for early release on parole was denied.

Who is Colin Pitchfork and how old is he?

Colin Pitchfork was born in 1960 in Newbold Verdon in Leicestershire (he’s now aged 61), where he attended nearby schools in Desford and Market Bosworth to later become a baker working in Narborough.

In 1981 he married a social worker and moved to the Leicestershire village of Littlethorpe.

It was later revealed that prior to his marriage, Mr Pitchfork had been convicted for indecent exposure and was referred to a Narborough hospital for treatment.

What were Colin Pitchfork’s crimes?

Mr Pitchfork’s first crime of rape and murder was perpetrated against 15-year-old Lynda Mann who lived in Narborough where Mr Pitchfork worked.

Ms Mann had taken a shortcut while walking home from babysitting on the night of November 21 and raised the concern of her parents and neighbours when she did not return.

The next morning Ms Mann was found on a footpath, having been raped and strangled.

On July 31 1986, 15-year-old schoolgirl Dawn Ashworth went missing in Enderby after travelling to a friend’s house.

When she did not return home that evening, her parents reported her missing - with Police discovering her body two days later in a wooden area at nearby Ten Pound Lane.

With close resemblance of Ms Ashworth’s murder to Ms Mann, Leicestershire Police also detected the same blood type in semen samples collected from both murder scenes.

How was Colin Pitchfork convicted?

A large-scale manhunt took place in Leicestershire to track down the killer of the two schoolgirls, with Leicestershire Constabulary teaming up with the Forensic Science Service (FSS) to locate the rapist and killer.

Almost 6,000 local men were asked to provide blood or saliva samples over a six month period, but no matches with the forensic evidence collected at the two schoolgirls’ murders were found.

In 1985, genetics researcher at the University of Leicester Alec Jeffries helped to develop and pioneer DNA profiling - which became instrumental in eventually locating Colin Pitchfork.

It was later revealed that one of Mr Pitchfork’s bakery colleagues, Ian Kelly, had masqueraded as Mr Pitchfork when providing a blood sample.

Mr Pitchfork was arrested by Leicestershire Constabulary on August 1 1987 and charged in 1988 at Leicester Crown Court with the two counts of rape and murder.