Page last updated at 14:52 GMT, Thursday, 14 May 2009 15:52 UK

Jail term cut for girls' killer

Colin Pitchfork
Colin Pitchfork has won his appeal in court

The first murderer jailed using DNA evidence has won an appeal against his 30-year minimum sentence for killing two Leicestershire schoolgirls.

Forty-eight-year-old Colin Pitchfork's tariff was reduced by two years to 28 years by three Court of Appeal judges.

He was jailed in 1988 after admitting raping and murdering Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth, who were both 15.

The judges said they allowed the appeal to a very limited extent because of his "exceptional progress" in custody.

The former baker was finally caught after the world's first mass screening for DNA, in which 5,000 men in three villages were asked to volunteer blood or saliva samples.

Pitchfork had initially evaded capture by getting a friend to take the test for him.

'Public safety'

Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge said the decision "has no bearing whatever on the continuing effect of the sentence of life imprisonment on the appellant.

"He cannot be released unless and until the safety of the public is assured," the judge added.

He has achieved a high standard of education, to degree level
Lord Judge

The court heard Pitchfork had become a specialist in the transcription of printed music into Braille.

Lord Judge said the double murderer's progress since he was first incarcerated "goes far beyond general good behaviour and positive response to his custodial sentence, but reflects very creditable assistance to disabled individuals outside the prison system".

"On the evidence before us he has sought to address the reasons behind the commission of these offences.

"He has achieved a high standard of education, to degree level."

Pitchfork was jailed after admitting two offences of murder, two of rape, two offences of indecent assault and one offence of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The then lord chief justice said after Pitchfork was jailed that "from the point of view of the safety of the public I doubt if he should ever be released".

His first victim, Lynda Mann, from Narborough, was murdered in 1983.

Three years later he killed Dawn Ashworth, from Enderby.

Pitchfork's legal team argued that the 30 years he must serve before being considered for parole was "manifestly excessive".


Lynda Mann's mother Kath Eastwood says there are no winners in the case

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