November 2019

Helen McCourt’s mother ‘horrified’ after daughter’s killer gets parole despite never revealing location of her body

The mother of murder victim Helen McCourt is “horrified” by the decision to release her killer, despite him never revealing where he hid her body.

Pub landlord Simms abducted and murdered insurance clerk Helen McCourt, 22, from Billinge on her way home from work in February 1988.

Ian Simms “met the test for release”, the parole board said, due to factors including the “considerable change in his behaviour”.

The decision came after Marie McCourt’s campaign to keep killers behind bars unless they lead police to their victim’s bodies, called Helen’s Law, failed to be ratified before parliament was dissolved ahead of the general election.​

“I’m just in a state of shock to be honest,” Ms McCourt said. “I got a call this morning and was told he was being released.

“I was just in shock. Well, I’m still trying to deal with it.”

She added: “I’m horrified by it, I’m horrified by it. This man is a danger, you know.

“I just wonder if some of these people who feel that they’re safe to be released… it’s OK for them, they are not going to live by them. But the people in the area, they will have to put up with that.”

The final decision on when Simms is released will be made by the Prison Service, although there will now be a three-week period during which either the justice secretary or even the killer himself can appeal.

The decision is subject to a series of conditions including to reside at a designated address, to be “of good behaviour” and to report for supervision appointments.

He will have to wear a tagging device to monitor his whereabouts, observe a curfew and avoid any contact with the family of his victim.​