100,000 show support for Helen's Law

Marie McCourt

Marie McCourt

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A PETITION set up by the mum of murder victim Helen McCourt has been signed by more than 100,000 people in less than a week.

Marie McCourt is calling on the government to introduce Helen’s Law which would make hiding a body, preventing a burial and obstructing a coroner becoming a criminal offences that would carry a “whole life” tariff.

Helen McCourt

Helen McCourt

Ian Simms, who was convicted of abducting and murdering Helen, a 22-year-old insurance clerk, in Billinge in 1988 could be released in January without ever revealing where he hid her remains.

Marie said: “I have no doubt that Simms is the killer and that he knows where Helen is.

“People don’t realise that it is horrific.

“It is like their trophy from the killing.

“They may have been caught but they can still torture their victims’ loved ones by not revealing where the body is.

“How dare they be released without admitting they are guilty and showing their remorse.

“That is where the law goes wrong.

“A judge should be able to say that, even if a killer has pleaded guilty but a body has not been found, that they have to give them a whole life tariff unless the victim’s remains are recovered so that the family can move forward in their grief.

“If not it is the family that are given a life sentence.”

Mrs McCourt was hoping to be able to meet with justice minister Mike Penning before Christmas to discuss the petition, which has now been signed by 117,388 people as Simms could be released as soon as January 19 when his next parole meeting is.

“We have been given a few dates for a meeting in January but we are on holiday so we are hoping to find a date in February,” she said.

“The response to the petition has been incredible. In one day the signatures went from 9,000 to 65,000.

“I know a lot of victims’ families through the support group I run and a lot of them have contacted me to say they completely support it.

“The more support we get, the more Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Teresa May have to sit up and listen.

“They have to take notice of what the people are

saying.”

Simms has already served longer than the minimum term imposed by a Liverpool Crown Court judge but is thought to have been refused parole up until now because he continues to deny the crime or reveal the whereabouts of Helen’s body.

But a change in the law means that Simms could be released without ever disclosing where he hid her body or showing any remorse for her death as they are no longer considered a reason for keeping killers behind

bars,

Mrs McCourt said: “I am worried about him being released.

“He knows what I look like but we have no idea what he will be like now.

“Some people have said ‘but what if he is innocent and doesn’t know where the body is’, but I heard the evidence given in court.

“We were told when he was convicted on evidence that meant it was 169,000 times more likely he was Helen’s killer.

“When he appealed his sentence, the advancement in DNA testing meant those odds went up to nine and half million times more likely to be the killer.

“That was 13 or 14 years ago now so who know what the odds would be now.

“I know this man knows where Helen is.

“If I thought there was any chance he was innocent I would not want him to stay in prison for life but he is torturing us.”

To sign the petition, visit the wesbite change.org/HelensLaw.