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Mother of murdered Helen McCourt pleads with judges to send daughter’s killer back to jail

A mother yesterday asked judges to send her daughter’s killer back to jail until he reveals the whereabouts of her body.

Marie McCourt is challenging a decision by the Parole Board to release Ian Simms earlier this year.

The former pub landlord served 30 years for the murder of 22-year-old insurance clerk Helen McCourt in 1988.

But he has always refused to reveal where he dumped her body.

In the first case of its kind, Mrs McCourt, 77, has launched a judicial review at the High Court claiming the correct legal tests were not carried out before Simms’s release. 

She also said his repeated refusal to disclose Helen’s location should have been central to whether to free him, and that he remained a risk to the public.

It comes after five years of campaigning by Mrs McCourt for legislation – dubbed Helen’s Law – to force the Parole Board to consider a killer’s failure to reveal where their victim’s body is before release.

Yesterday two judges began considering her review application via video link.

Tom Little QC, representing Mrs McCourt, told the court: ‘He must have known, and still knows, the location of Helen’s body. Despite this, he has refused to disclose this for over three decades.’

Helen was attacked as she walked home after work in Billinge, Merseyside, in 1988.

Simms was jailed for life in 1989 on DNA evidence.

Now 63, he was released in February after the Parole Board said he was no longer a danger to the public. Mr Little argued this decision was ‘unreasonable’ and asked the judges to quash it.

He said Simms had sent a threatening letter to Mrs McCourt after he was jailed. And in 1993 he painted a picture of a woman resembling Helen with marks on her face.

Mrs McCourt, of Billinge, said: ‘I am making a stand for all families of missing murder victims and hope and pray that my claim succeeds.’

Lawyers for Simms argue there is ‘no standing’ to challenge the parole decision. The hearing continues.

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