Helen McCourt’s killer WILL be released from prison even though he has never revealed where he dumped her body after killing the 22-year-old in 1988
- Ian Simms, now 63, abducted and murdered 22-year-old Helen McCourt in 1988
- Helen’s mother begged Simms to tell her where he dumped her daughter’s body
- Simms was convicted of killing the insurance clerk but maintained his innocence
- Parole Board today said 63-year-old had ‘met the test for release’ from prison
- Board said he’s causing distress to victim’s family and shows a lack of empathy
Helen McCourt was murdered by pub landlord Ian Simms in 1988
The pub landlord who abducted and murdered 22-year-old Helen McCourt in 1988 is set to be released from prison, the Parole Board confirmed today.
Ian Simms, who has never revealed the location of the body of his murder victim, has ‘met the test for release’, the board has decided.
They said it ‘carefully considered’ Simms’ failure to disclose the location of Mrs McCourt’s body and concluded there was ‘no prospect of Simms ever disclosing the whereabouts of his victim even if he were kept in prison until he died.’
The board added his refusal continues to cause understandable distress and misery to the victim’s family and the panel concluded this demonstrated a lack of empathy.
But the board said denial was not a ‘necessarily determining factor’ and also considered evidence from two psychologists who recommended release.
Helen’s mother had begged the board to keep her killer behind bars while he refuses to reveal where he hid her body.
Marie McCourt pleaded with the murderer to tell her the whereabouts of her daughter’s body ever since the insurance clerk vanished on her way home from work in 1988.
But the pub landlord, who was convicted by a jury on overwhelming DNA evidence of the 22-year-old’s abduction and murder, has always maintained his innocence.
Left, Ian Simms arriving at St Helens Magistrates Court in Merseyside in 1988. Right, Helen’s mother Marie McCourt, pictured after she gave evidence at a Parole board hearing on the release of Ian Simms earlier this month
In a statement, the Parole Board said Simms’ release would be subject to a series of conditions.
These include residing at a designated address, demonstrating ‘of good behaviour’ and reporting for supervision appointments.
He will also have to wear a tagging device to monitor his whereabouts, observe a curfew and avoid any contact with the family of his victim.
Simms, 63, had his case considered at a seventh parole hearing on November 8.
He had been denied release at his previous hearing in 2016 but was subsequently transferred to an open prison ‘due to progress made’ where he has ‘followed the rules’ when granted temporary release.
The Parole Board said today: ‘Taking into account the denial, the refusal to reveal where the victim’s body is, all the risk factors, the progress that Mr Simms has made, the considerable change in his behaviour, the fact that he has not been involved in any violence or substance misuse for many years, his protective factors, the recommendations from all the professionals and all the evidence presented at the hearing, the panel was satisfied that Mr Simms met the test for release.’
Miss McCourt’s mother, Marie, 75, was so traumatised by not knowing what had happened to her daughter that for years she has lobbied the Ministry of Justice to introduce new rules – dubbed Helen’s Law – to stop killers being freed without saying where they have hidden their victims’ bodies.
Helen’s Law, came close to being ratified in Parliament before it was dissolved ahead of the General Election, which Mrs McCourt said has put her back to ‘square one’.
The Prisoners (Disclosure Of Information About Victims) Bill was brought to Parliament last month.
Her mother Helen McCourt is pictured at home in front of a collage of a picture of her daughter
MPs voted in favour of the law in 2016, but it did not receive Government backing until earlier this year.
Parole Board guidance already says offenders who withhold information may still pose a risk to the public and could face longer in prison.
Courts can also hand down tougher sentences for murderers who deliberately conceal the location of a body.
But the Bill would make it a legal requirement for the Parole Board to take into account a killer’s failure to disclose the location of their victim’s remains when considering them for release.