Mother asks judges to quash decision to release Helen McCourt’s killer

The mother of a 22-year-old insurance clerk murdered in 1988 has asked judges to quash a Parole Board decision to release her daughter’s killer.

Marie McCourt says Ian Simms has never revealed where Helen McCourt’s body is hidden.

Mrs McCourt, who is aged in her 70s, claims a November 2019 Parole Board decision to release Simms, who is in his 60s, was wrong and should be reviewed.

She said Simms should not be released until he has revealed the whereabouts of her daughter’s body.

Helen McCourt murder
Helen McCourt murder

Two judges are considering her judicial review application at a virtual High Court hearing.

Lady Justice Macur and Mr Justice Chamberlain have been told Ms McCourt was murdered in Billinge, Merseyside, in February 1988 while on her way home.

Simms, a former pub landlord who has always maintained his innocence, was found guilty of her abduction and murder after a trial at Liverpool Crown Court in March 1989 and given a life sentence, with a minimum term of 16 years.

A barrister representing Mrs McCourt told judges the application is the first of its kind.

Tom Little QC said Mrs McCourt has campaigned for many years for a change in the law relating to the parole of murderers who refuse to provide information about the location of their victim’s body.

Legislation in the Prisoners (Disclosure of Information about Victims) Bill – which is known as Helen’s Law – is now moving towards its final stages of parliamentary scrutiny.

Helen McCourt murder
Helen McCourt murder

Simms was freed from prison on licence in February.

The conditions of his release mean he has to live at a designated address and wear an electronic tag.

He is also subject to a curfew and must avoid contact with his victim’s family.

Mrs McCourt had argued Simms should stay in jail until her judicial review case had concluded.

But two judges refused to postpone his release on licence in February.