ONE minute the nation is discussing the wisdom of releasing child rapist and killer Colin Pitchfork back into the community . . .
Who among us could fail to be unnerved by the sight of this nondescript, middle-aged man now blending into the background of everyday life.
For those who don’t know the full extent of his crimes, in 1988 Pitchfork was sentenced to “life” in prison — with, in accordance with rules at the time, a minimum term of 30 years — for beating, raping and strangling two teenage girls.
The first, in 1983, was 15-year-old Lynda Mann, who disappeared on her way to a friend’s house in Narborough, Leics.
Pitchfork committed his heinous crime while his baby son slept in the back of his car.
The second, in 1986, was Dawn Ashworth, also 15, who was walking home from a friend’s house in the same village at 4.30pm when she was attacked.
In the first case to use DNA profiling, police asked local men to give a blood sample and 5,500 did so.
But after a conversation overheard in a pub, it later emerged that baker Pitchfork had falsified his passport and persuaded a work colleague to pretend to be him.
When he was finally arrested and police asked why he had raped and murdered Dawn, he replied: “Opportunity. She was there and I was there.”
I’m a big believer in prisoner rehabilitation in certain circumstances, but Brian Escott-Cox, the QC who prosecuted Pitchfork in 1987, says: “He’s a psychopath — there’s no known cure.
“One thing he constantly said when he was first arrested in 1987 was, ‘I’m not an educated man, I can’t believe how easy it is to fool these people. All you have to do is tell them what they want to hear’.”
Did he employ the same tactic with the parole board? Who knows? Least of all them, one suspects.
One can only hope that another family doesn’t have to suffer the life sentence of pain that Lynda and Dawn’s family have endured
Yet, in March, they agreed he was “suitable for release” and, when that decision was challenged by the Government, a judge-led review supported the original conclusion.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland says Pitchfork — who has since changed his name — will be subject to the most strict licence conditions ever imposed.
He will be required to wear an electronic tag on his release, live at a specific address, take regular lie-detector tests and is banned from approaching children.
But will any of these conditions make a blind bit of a difference to a psychopath if an evil urge returns?
Dawn’s uncle, Philip Musson, says: “I consider the decision to release him an experiment, and I only pray that the people living in the area where he is resettled do not pay the price.”
What a very chilling thought.
One can only hope that his prayers are answered and another family doesn’t have to suffer the life sentence of pain that Lynda and Dawn’s family have endured.
ER, NO TRACE OF TEST RESULTS
AIRLINE bosses have called for excessive Covid testing on the double-jabbed to be dropped.
They say it’s a “demand killer” for “green”and “amber” trips abroad.
Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate says: “With vaccination rates across Europe comparable, if not better, than the UK’s, the time has come for testing to be removed altogether for travellers who have been double jabbed.”
Hear, hear. Particularly as one increasingly gets the impression that much of it is just meaningless box-ticking.
Stories abound of people who have simply made up a Day 2 test reference number on their passenger locator form, or Photoshopped their details into someone else’s PCR test results.
Or . . . a couple of weeks ago, we returned from Ibiza having forked out for pre-flight antigen tests – which no one looked at – and “Day 2 test packages” from a company called Randox.
The boxed kits were waiting for us when we got home and we followed the instructions to the letter then took them to a nearby drop- box for collection.
Our negative results arrived within a couple of days, but our 17-year-old daughter’s never materialised and, despite chaser emails to Randox, no one has bothered to reply.
But most interestingly of all, no one in authority has asked where it is, either.
NOT SO GREAT ESCAPE
FORMER Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been to the Swiss Alps for a holiday with former aide Gina Coladangelo.
Apparently they drove there in his tiny Fiat 500 and stayed in a mid-range hotel room with twin beds pushed together to accommodate their, ahem, needs.
Which, as an attempt to feel young again, is just one step removed from a Citroen CV, a youth hostel and a mix-tape of “our songs” to pop in the cassette player along the way.
Coupled with the clumsy office snog that led to the destruction of both their marriages, it can only mean one thing.
They’re both in the grip of a massive mid-life crisis while their two abandoned spouses are having to do the grown-up stuff of holding it all together for the sake of the six children involved.
A CAR blocking access for binmen was surrounded with rubbish by angry residents in Brans– combe, Devon.
By the time the vehicle was removed, three weeks of food waste collections had been piled up all around it.
This reminds me of the time we attended a friend’s wedding in the South of France and one of the guests – as you ask, it was Mike Pickering from M People – parked his car in the empty town square.
The following morning he found the market in full swing and a collection of locally grown cabbages being sold from his car bonnet.
He had to buy the lot before they would let him out.
JUST WAIT FOR THE REAL WEATHER, CRISTIANO
CRISTIANO RONALDO has timed his arrival in Manchester to coincide with the first bit of decent weather we’ve had in weeks.
Consequently, here he is, posing bare-chested in his new garden while his young children cavort in carefree glee beside him while perhaps thinking: “I don’t know why people knock British weather.
This is just like the climate in Turin.”
But once the dark mornings close in and Jack Frost gets his teeth into those sun-kissed limbs, will those smiles vanish like snow on a radiator?
Ronaldo is used to the British winter and, besides, he’ll be running around a lot to keep warm.
But his family might struggle. Particularly, it seems, his girl-friend Georgina Rodriguez who, despite it being 26C, is already wearing a hoodie.
BIDDER’S BIN HAD
A BANKSY artwork that partially shredded itself after selling at auction for £1.1million is back on sale.
This time it’s been renamed from Girl With Balloon to Love Is In The Bin and, despite only half remaining, it looks set to fetch around £6million from a keen bidder.
Sounds like the artwork isn’t the only thing with something missing.
BOTOX and lip-filler procedures on under-18s are to be banned from October.
The only surprise is that they were ever allowed.
ALL JUST GONG HO
THE allegations that Prince Charles’s closest aide offered to support a knighthood for a Saudi tycoon who donated funds to the Prince’s Foundation has got the media very excited.
But the general public don’t seem as bothered.
Presumably because they already assumed that honours are routinely “supported” in return for donations or favours.