What did Colin Pitchfork do? Inside evil murder spree – and mistake that gave him away

Crafty Colin Pitchfork’s cover-up for the chilling murders of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth was only blown when a co-worker’s conversation was overheard in a pub, and was recalled to prison after walking free

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Colin Pitchfork victim’s sister discusses child killer

Calculating double child killer Colin Pitchfork was sent back to prison after his lie-detector test performance raised grave concerns, hastening moves to recall him to jail.

Just two months after he was freed the 61-year-old was put back inside, after tasting freedom for the first time in 33 years after leaving HMP Leyhill in Gloucestershire in September 2021.

What did Colin Pitchfork do?

The fiend raped and killed two 15-year-old girls in Leicestershire in the 1980s and a sob story to a co-worker so nearly saw him get away with it.

On November 22 1983, Lynda Mann’s strangled body was found on a deserted footpath.

Three years on August 2, teen Dawn Ashworth was found in a wooded area nearby. She too had been beaten, savagely raped and strangled in an almost identical murder.

Despite a government challenge and public backlash, Pitchfork is expected to walk free by the weekend.

But it was only a co-worker’s blunder back in the 80s that sent him down.

Strangled girl found on footpath

The family of murdered Lynda Mann now have come to terms with his release


Leicester Mercury/BPM Media)

On November 23, 1983, teen Lynda Mann took a shortcut on her way home from babysitting.

Her parents raised the alarm when she didn’t return home and spent the night searching for her with neighbours.

She was found dead the next morning.

The schoolgirl had been raped and strangled on a deserted footpath, known locally as the Black Pad.

Second body found 3 years later

Schoolgirl Dawn Ashworth was murdered – but her killer nearly got away with it


Leicester Mercury/BPM Media)

The killer waited three years for his next sickening attack, and it was an almost identical murder.

On July 31 1986, a second 15-year-old girl, Dawn Ashworth, vanished.

After leaving her home to visit a friend’s house, she didn’t return – and locals had that familiar feeling as parents, police and friends searched for the teenager.

Her dead body was found in a wooded area near a footpath called Ten Pound Lane two days later.

She had been brutally beaten, raped and strangled.

How he was caught

Child killer Colin Pitchfork was eventually brought to justice following a conversation in a pub


Coventry Telegraph/BPM Media)

Pitchfork was arrested and jailed in 1988 for the murders in what was a revolutionary case as he became the first criminal to be trapped by DNA profiling.

He was one of thousands of local men who gave blood samples for testing against material found on the bodies of the murdered children.

The profiling technology had first been pioneered by Sir Alec Jeffreys at the University of Leicester and since Pitchfork’s conviction, changed how police investigations in the future were carried out.

But he so nearly avoided the testing that ultimately brought the killer to justice and his big plan crashing down.

How he nearly got away with it

He convinced a friend to take a blood test for him



The killer has appealed many times to be released – and could leave prison in days



When it was time for his blood test, quick-thinking Pitchfork managed to convince a colleague to pretend to be him.

Ian Kelly, who worked alongside the killer at the bakery, felt sorry for his friend.

Spinning the line that Pitchfork wanted to avoid being harassed by police because of prior convictions for indecent exposure, his sympathetic co-worker said he would help.

The killer drove Kelly to the test centre, having doctored his passport to switch their pictures. Pitchfork’s blood sample was in the system and it wouldn’t prove a match.

Taking his place – with foolish Kelly giving his own blood – the twisted baker so nearly avoided detection.

But he hadn’t counted on his pal saying too much in a busy pub.

The big mistake

Police hunt for clues after the murder of Lynda Mann in 1983



Cunning Pitchfork had done his part in covering up his warped crimes.

But the colleague who had helped him was about to blow it all over a few pints down his local.

Some time later, Kelly revealed to a fellow worker in a Leicester pub what he had been asked to do.

Their conversation was overheard by a woman sitting nearby.

She didn’t hang around, informing police of exactly what she had heard. It proved to be the moment things finally unravelled.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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