Helen McCourt's killer to be released despite never revealing where body is buried

21 November 2019, 15:02 | Updated: 21 November 2019, 15:30

Helen McCourt's killer will be released from prison
Helen McCourt's killer will be released from prison. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Helen McCourt's killer has "met the test for release" from prison despite never revealing where he buried her body.

Ian Simms, 63, was deemed suitable for release due to factors including the "considerable change in his behaviour".

Speaking at the family home in Billinge, Merseyside, Helen's mother, Marie McCourt, shaking with anger, said she received a call this morning from her victim liaison officer at Merseyside Probation Service, and was still trying to process the news.

She said: "I'm just in a state of shock to be honest. I got a call this morning and was told he was being released. I've just had some forms come through, I think that's on what grounds the Parole Board has granted him release on licence, but I don't know all the conditions.

"I don't' know some people are telling me little bits and this is the wrong way to do it.

"I was just in shock. Well I'm still trying to deal with it. I'm horrified by it, I'm horrified by it. This man is a danger, you know."

Helen McCourt was 22 when she was murdered
Helen McCourt was 22 when she was murdered. Picture: PA
Ian Simms was found guilty of her murder despite Helen's body never being found
Ian Simms was found guilty of her murder despite Helen's body never being found. Picture: PA

He will be released subject to a series of conditions, including to reside at a designated address, to be "of good behaviour" and to report for supervision appointments.

Simms - who ran the George and Dragon in Billinge, near Wigan - 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.

The pub landlord, who was convicted by a jury on overwhelming DNA evidence of the 22-year-old's abduction and murder, has been serving his life sentence at HMP Garth in Leyland, Lancashire.

He has always maintained his innocence over the death of Ms McCourt, an insurance clerk who vanished on her way home from work in Liverpool in February 1988.

Marie McCourt, Helen&squot;s mum, said she was in a "state of shock" at the news
Marie McCourt, Helen's mum, said she was in a "state of shock" at the news. Picture: PA

Simms was convicted the following year.

Outlining its verdict, the Parole Board said: "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."

During a Parole Board hearing, Ms McCourt's family called on Simms to end the "torture" and reveal once and for all where he hid her body.



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