Today in the Chamber, Lucy called on the Lord Chancellor Rt. Hon Robert Buckland QC MP to intervene in the release of convicted child rapist and double murderer Colin Pitchfork.
Lucy raised the concerns of Telford constituents Steve and Lynnette Williams, whose daughter Georgia was brutally murdered in 2013. Georgia was just 17 years old when she was raped and killed by 23-year old Jamie Reynolds. Reynolds had a history of stalking and grooming other young girls, and rightfully received a whole life sentence for his crimes.
Georgia’s parents reached out to Lucy upon hearing of the decision by the Parole Board to release Mr Pitchfork, despite him being sentenced to life in prison in January 1988. Lucy expressed their fear that violent criminals like Mr Pitchfork are being let back into society after committing crimes that warrant a life sentence.
She urged the Lord Chancellor to review the decision of the Board to release Mr Pitchfork and ask them to think again. She also urged the Lord Chancellor to consider what can be done to ensure the Parole Board has the full confidence and trust of the public and victims.
Lucy is determined that criminals like Reynolds and Pitchfork, who continue to pose a risk to society and whose crimes continue to have a profound impact on the lives of their victims’ families, should serve their entire sentence in prison.
Steve and Lynnette Williams, parents of Georgia Williams, said:
“To hear that Colin Pitchfork, who took the lives of two children for his own pleasure, is to be released, is an insult to the two young victims.
The impact of losing a child is devastating, this anguish is compounded when as parents, you know that those last minutes of your loved one’s life were spent in terror. These monsters destroy more than one life, they destroy whole families.
It has been 8 years of torment for me and my family since Georgia was taken. The impact on my mental health has ruined my life and in turn my family’s – there is no cure for our suffering. Based on my experience as a police detective, I believe Pitchfork will kill again, I’ve seen it all too often.
Victims’ families are forgotten in a short while, but the terror and chaos its causes in our lives goes on. It changes how we live our lives forever – we want to reach out to ease the extreme distress of other suffering families.
Please Lucy, do everything you can for the victims of Colin Pitchfork to ease their families’ suffering.
Keep Pitchfork in prison. Life must mean life.”
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Philp MP, said:
“I would like to particularly pause on the very powerful and moving contributions made by the Hon. Member for Telford who recounted the appalling constituency case of Georgia, who was awfully murdered.
And the case raised by the Member for South Leicestershire whose constituents, Linda and Dawn, were murdered by this terrible man, Pitchfork – a case that the Member for Telford raised as well.
The Government has, of course, seen the Independent Parole Board’s decision from Monday of this week to release that man.
Thanks to legislation passed a year or two ago, it is within the power of the Lord Chancellor to review those decisions and to ask the Parole Board to think again.
I can confirm to the House that the review of that decision is currently ongoing and will be concluded before the expiration of the relevant time limit.
It is a case that the Lord Chancellor is acutely aware of and is looking at as we speak, and I thank the Members for Telford and South Leicestershire for raising this case and I can assure them that it is very much under active consideration.”
You can read Lucy’s full speech below:
Mr Speaker I am very grateful to be called in this debate. We all come to this place to speak for those we represent and give a voice to those who cannot be heard. Today Mr Speaker I rise to speak for Georgia Williams and her family. Georgia Williams was a much-loved Telford teenager.
She suffered a brutal death almost exactly 8 years ago, at the hands of sadistic killer. A killer who had repeatedly sought out young victims, grooming and stalking them as he pursued and finally executed a grotesque sexual fantasy. The perpetrator rightly received a whole life term.
Georgia was 17 – she was optimistic and confident, she was kind and beautiful, she was fun and happy – she shone with life and energy, full of hope for the future, she had her whole life to live, ambitions to be fulfilled, dreams to come true. She was all that is good about young people.
Her parents, Lynette and Steve, who I have got to know over the years, reached out to me on hearing of the release of Colin Pitchfork, because they know the grief and suffering his victim’s families feel. They want others to understand this. They want others to know why life must mean life.
Now I do understand the role of the Parole Board and that it is focused on risk to the community and keeping the public safe. I understand that it must balance the rights of the perpetrator not to be arbitrarily detained. I accept that it is not for politicians to second guess to the decisions that the parole board arrives at.
As it stands, the law allows for the actions the Parole Board is taking in the Pitchfork case. The law means The Lord Chancellor has little scope to intervene and even less chance of success. But there are some crimes that are so abhorrent – so offensive to the moral conscience – that society cannot be required to accept such perpetrators back into our midst.
Society is being asked to forget the crime, forgive the perpetrator, forget the victims and their families. In the most grotesque cases, the most heinous cases, why should Society be required to accept the slate must be wiped clean? Why do we insist that, just because a period of time has passed, such crimes must now be acceptable to society and to the victim’s families?
We in this place are legislators, we in this place represent the people who put us here – we need a Parole Board that operates under a legislative framework that allows trust and confidence both for the public and for victims. If the Lord Chief Justice at the time says he expects a perpetrator never to be released, why is it for the Parole Board to decide otherwise? Why is it that we in this place can only wring our hands and say there is nothing to be done?
I do want to take this opportunity thank my RT Hon and learned friend the Lord Chancellor and his excellent team of ministers. They are radical and reforming. They put victims front and centre. They have focused on sexual violence and violence against women and girls. They have shown they are prepared to take the tough decisions.
I would particularly like to congratulate them on the action taken on automatic early release for serious sexual and violent offenders – this is a subject that caused much anger, fear and heartache in Telford, when the ring leader of a grooming gang secured automatic early release 5 years after a 22 year sentence was handed down to them by the court.
In my campaign to secure justice for victims and put an end to automatic early release, I found little support from previous Lord Chancellors. “There is nothing we can do” was a response I often received. But it was my Rt Hon and Learned Friend the Member Swindon South who listened, who understood and who took action. I will always be grateful to him for this and for his humanity.
I would now urge him to focus on the role of the Parole Board and consider what we can do in this place to ensure it has the full confidence and trust of the public and victims. I understand that a root and branch review is underway and will publish their report later this year and welcome that.
No one can begin to understand the terrible grief and devastation that the Williams family suffered, not least because Georgia’s killer could have been stopped before he eventually targeted her.
For any parent to lose a child is a tragedy from which they never recover, it is there every waking moment, and all too often torments those few disrupted sleeping moments too. The everyday occurrences that trigger a wave of overwhelming memories – the sweet smile of a child in the street, the sound of a familiar song in a shop. But to have a child taken in such horrific circumstances as those that Georgia suffered, is a source of torment and despair which cannot be fully comprehended.
So, I would like to end by sharing the words of Georgia’s parents with the House:
“To hear that Colin Pitchfork, who took the lives of two children for his own pleasure, is to be released, is an insult to the two young victims.”
“The impact of losing a child is devastating, this anguish is compounded when as parents, you know that those last minutes of your loved one’s life were spent in terror. These monsters destroy more than one life, they destroy whole families.”
“It has been 8 years of torment for me and my family since Georgia was taken.”
“The impact on my mental health has ruined my life and in turn my family’s – there is no cure for our suffering. Based on my experience as a police detective, I believe Pitchfork will kill again, I’ve seen it all too often.”
“Victims’ families are forgotten in a short while, but the terror and chaos its causes in our lives goes on.”
“It changes how we live our lives forever – we want to reach out to ease the extreme distress of other suffering families.”
“Please Lucy, do everything you can for the victims of Colin Pitchfork to ease their families’ suffering.”
“Keep Pitchfork in prison.”
“Life must mean life.”