Colin Pitchfork (born March 1960, Newbold Verdon, England) is a British criminal, the first convicted of murder based on DNA fingerprinting evidence, and the first to be caught as a result of mass DNA screening. Pitchfork raped and murdered two girls, the first in Narborough, Leicestershire, in November 1983, and the second in Enderby, also in Leicestershire, in July 1986. He was arrested on 19 September 1987, and sentenced to life imprisonment on 22 January 1988, after admitting both murders.
On 21 November 1983, 15-year-old Lynda Mann left her home to visit a friend's house. She did not return. The next morning, she was found raped and strangled on a deserted footpath known locally as the Black Pad. Using forensic science techniques available at the time, police linked a semen sample taken from her body to a person with type A blood and an enzyme profile that matched only 10 percent of males. With no other leads or evidence, the case was left open.
On 31 July 1986, another 15-year-old girl, Dawn Ashworth, took a shortcut instead of taking her normal route home. Two days later, her body was found in a wooded area near a footpath called Ten Pound Lane. She had been beaten, savagely raped, and strangled to death. The modus operandi matched that of the first attack, and semen samples revealed the same blood type.
The prime suspect was a local 17-year-old youth, who revealed knowledge of Ashworth's body, and admitted the crime under questioning, but denied the first murder. Alec Jeffreys, of the University of Leicester, had recently developed DNA profiling along with Peter Gill and Dave Werrett of the Forensic Science Service (FSS) and detailed the technique in a 1985 paper.
I was responsible for developing all of the DNA extraction techniques and demonstrating that it was possible after all to obtain DNA profiles from old stains. The biggest achievement was developing the preferential extraction method to separate sperm from vaginal cells – without this method it would have been difficult to use DNA in rape cases.
Using this technique, Jeffreys compared semen samples from both murders against a blood sample from Buckland which conclusively proved that both girls were killed by the same man, but not Buckland. The police then contacted the FSS to verify Jeffreys' results and decide which direction to take the investigation. Buckland became the first person to have his innocence established by DNA fingerprinting.
Jeffreys later said:
I have no doubt whatsoever that he would have been found guilty had it not been for DNA evidence. That was a remarkable occurrence.
The Leicestershire Constabulary and the FSS then undertook an investigation in which 5,000 local men were asked to volunteer blood or saliva samples. This took six months, and no matches were found.
Later, a man named Ian Kelly was heard bragging that he had obtained £200 for giving a sample while masquerading as his friend, Colin Pitchfork, a local baker. On September 19, 1987 Pitchfork was arrested at his home in Haybarn Close, in the neighbouring village of Littlethorpe and a sample was found to match that of the killer. During subsequent questioning, Pitchfork admitted to flashing females over 1000 times, a compulsion that he had started in his early teens. Flashing led to sexual assault and then to strangling his victims in order to protect his identity. He pleaded guilty to the two rape/murders in addition to another incident of sexual assault that he had committed. Pitchfork was preparing to move to Littlethorpe at the time of the murder of Lynda Mann, and resided at Haybarn Close in Littlethorpe at the time of the murder of Dawn Ashworth. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and concurrent terms for rape and murder, but with no minimum sentence (thus, presenting the opportunity for release after ten years).
On 14 May 2009, after an initial adjournment on 30 April 2009, Pitchfork’s legal appeal was heard at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. He won a two-year reduction in his original sentence of a minimum 30 years' imprisonment. As a consequence, Pitchfork will now be eligible for release in 2016. The Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge stated, however, that "he cannot be released unless and until the safety of the public is assured." The court heard that Pitchfork is now educated to degree level and had become expert at the transcription of printed music into Braille, hoping one day to be able to help the blind. This evidence was presented by his legal representatives as evidence of the development of his character while incarcerated.
See also 
- BMD records give Market Bosworth Registration District which includes Newbold Verdon
- Hinckley Times 2008 12 19
- Sanders, John (2000). Forensic Casebook of Crime. London: True Crime Library/Forum Press. p. 229. ISBN 1-874358-36-2.
- "Anger over child killer's artwork". BBC News. 2009-04-09. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
- "Work of art or monstrous cynicism? Convicted paedophile creates extraordinary paper sculpture in bid to win freedom". The Daily Mail. 2009-04-11. Retrieved 2010-12-13.