Home > Case Book > Forensic Cases: Colin Pitchfork, First Exoneration Through DNA

Forensic Cases: Colin Pitchfork, First Exoneration Through DNA

Author: Suzanne Elvidge BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 4 April 2014 |
 
Dna Rape Murder Exoneration Conviction

One of the keystones of forensic science is DNA testing. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the genetic material present in every cell. Each individual has a Unique DNA Profile. There are even a few differences between the DNA of identical twins.

A British scientist, Sir Alec Jeffreys, developed DNA profiling in the 1980s. DNA for profiling can be extracted from samples of human cells found at a Crime Scene, including blood, semen, skin, saliva, mucus, perspiration and the roots of hair, and Profiling can even be carried out on old and dried out samples.

The case of Colin Pitchfork was the first murder conviction based on DNA profiling evidence (there was a previous rape conviction based on this type of evidence).

The Exoneration

After going missing, Lynda Mann, a 15-year-old schoolgirl, was raped and murdered in the grounds of Carlton Hayes psychiatric hospital in Narborough, Leicestershire, in November 1983. Forensic examination of semen sample showed that it was a type found in only 10% of men, and was from someone with type A blood. However, the police did not find a suspect.

In 1986, another 15-year-old schoolgirl, Dawn Ashworth, was similarly sexually assaulted and strangled in the nearby village of Enderby, and semen samples showed the same blood type.

Richard Buckland, a local 17-year-old with learning disabilities who worked at Carlton Hayes psychiatric hospital, had been spotted near Dawn Ashworth’s murder scene and knew unreleased details about the body. In 1986, he confessed to Dawn Ashworth’s murder but not Lynda Mann’s.

Using Sir Alec Jeffreys’ new technique, scientists compared the semen samples with a blood sample from Richard Buckland. This proved that both girls were murdered by the same man, and also proved that this man was not Richard Buckland – the first person to be exonerated using DNA.

The Conviction

In 1987, in the first ever mass DNA screen, the police and forensic scientists screened blood and saliva samples from 4,000 men aged between 17 and 34 who lived in the villages of Enderby, Narborough and nearby Littlethorpe and did not have an alibi for murders. The turn out rate was 98%, but the screen did not find any matches to the semen samples. The police and scientists expanded the screen to men with an alibi, but still did not find a match.

In August 1987, a woman overheard a colleague, Ian Kelly, boasting that he had given a sample posing as a friend of his, Colin Pitchfork. Pitchfork had persuaded Kelly to take the test as he claimed he had already given a sample for a friend who had a flashing conviction. The police arrested Colin Pitchfork in September 1987, and scientists found that his DNA profile matched that of the murderer.

Colin Pitchfork had previous convictions for flashing, and claimed that the murders had begun as flashings, but the girls had run away, which had excited him.

In January 1988, Colin Pitchfork was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders, and was told he had to serve a minimum of 30 years.

What to Read Next...

Forensic Cases: The M25 Rapist.

You might also like...
Leave a Comment...
Let that Barstard rot in prison, never let him out, he took too young girle lives how can he be let free when he took there lives at such a young age. Longford( I wont call him by a title because they's so called lords think they are above the person in the street)Longford is a Prat, Like most of the so called judges we have all in the little boys club
Me - 10-Oct-13 @ 6:47 PM
We need to re hash this as much as possible to make sure this evil swine never gets out and rots in Jail followed by hell. Changed man well any of those so called people who think he is really changed.let him look after you kids or grand kids one weekend.Like listening to Lord Longford again.pathetic do gooders!
martynCC - 17-Aug-12 @ 6:45 AM
Leave a Comment or Ask a Question...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Notify:
  Notify me by email when a response is posted
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • jojo
    Re: Determining Cause of Death
    Hi I live in the UK. Two weeks ago my partner of 13 years was found dead in our home. We were still together as a couple but I wasn't…
    30 August 2014
  • ForensicFever
    Re: The Rate of Decay in a Corpse
    Fandom Rider - There will be delayed putrefaction and a distinctive smell. If there weren't any entomological species in the…
    29 August 2014
  • meet
    Re: Estimating The Time of Death
    at the time of death, the temperature of human body instantly increase or decrease????
    28 August 2014
  • LSN80
    Re: Determining Sex
    Can an autopsy show whether a woman has given birth more than once?
    25 August 2014
  • bunk
    Re: X-ray Forensics for Guns
    My son was murdered they arrested the killer several months later but later released they arrest the killer 4 years later he was…
    23 August 2014
  • kim
    Re: Rigor Mortis and Lividity
    My sister was found decessed sitting up on a loveseat with a sheet covering her body and her arms above her head, palms facing up. Why…
    23 August 2014
  • mori
    Re: Hair and Fibres in Forensics
    If their any side effects in this product Of cobika.
    22 August 2014
  • Reddhott
    Re: Suffocating and Smothering
    My boyfriend just trid to commit suicide by putting a zip tie around his neck, he put it on so tight that it took me at least 2 to 3…
    22 August 2014
  • Kathy
    Re: Forensic Toxicology
    I believe my sisters husband may be poisoning her and believe hair testing is a way to establish this. Can you advise me on how to go about…
    21 August 2014
  • miky
    Re: Computer Forensics Explained
    Thank you so much i have just started to my application dat will be using hearth-beat to access information
    21 August 2014
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the ExploreForensics website. Please read our Disclaimer.