A touching tribute to Helen McCourt

Helen, Marie and Michael McCourt at a family wedding
Helen, Marie and Michael McCourt at a family wedding

A poignant tribute will be paid to a murder victim later this month on what would have been her 52nd birthday.

The Steve Prescott Bridge in St Helens will be lit up on Saturday, July 29 in memory of Helen McCourt.

Steve Prescott Bridge

Steve Prescott Bridge

The Billinge insurance clerk was just 22 when she went missing almost 30 years ago on her way home from work.

Town landlord Ian Simms was later convicted of her killing but her body has never been found.

St Helens Council says the yellow illuminations are “a way of the borough showing solidarity with her family as they continue to fight for the introduction of Helen’s Law, and to remember Helen.”

The victim’s mum Marie has been campaigning, with support from St Helens North MP Conor McGinn, for the introduction of an Unlawful Killing (Recovery of Remains) Act which would insist that murderers who do not disclose the whereabouts of their victim’s remains are kept behind bars until they do.

Helen was bright and the light of my life, so it’s significant that we will be remembering her on her birthday in such a way

Marie McCourt

Simms has served far longer in jail already than he would have done had he told the authorities what he did with Helen’s body - he says he cannot because he did not kill her. But the way is being paved towards his eventual release after he was granted a move to an open prison recently.

Support for Helen’s Law is growing, with an online petition now gaining more than 400,000 names.

It has had its first reading in the House of Commons but its second one has been delayed, firstly because there was too much other business on the parliamentary schedule on its due date and then because of the snap general election.

When it will be back on the agenda is not yet known and the McCourts are frustrated that it could come too late to prevent Simms’ release.

Regardless of that, earlier this year justice minister Philip Lee suggested it would not reach the statute book because it risked creating “perverse incentives” for murderers to lie about where their victims were buried.

On the news of the bridge illuminations, Marie said: “Helen was bright and the light of my life, so it’s significant that we will be remembering her on her birthday in such a way.

“As a parent, it’s haunting that I will never be able to properly grieve the loss of my daughter, but I will continue to push for Helen’s Law to be instated so that no other family has to go through the trauma that I have.

“To have the Steve Prescott Bridge lit up yellow not only symbolises my love for Helen, but it will also act as a comfort that there may be light at the end of the tunnel - and that one day, this long campaign will be worth it and justice will be served.”