A grieving mum and the phone call she dreads

Marie McCourt
Marie McCourt

A GRIEVING mum spoke today of the dread that her daughter’s killer could be back on the streets this week without ever revealing where her body lies.

Marie McCourt was speaking as she awaited a parole board verdict over Ian Simms’s latest bid for freedom.

Helen McCourt

Helen McCourt

Two weeks ago the former Billinge pub landlord appeared before a panel to put a case for liberty - 28 years after Helen McCourt’s disappearance and death.

Mrs McCourt had been told that she would discover the outcome around two weeks after the prison hearing.

Last night there was still no news but fears have been growing that Simms’s chances of being set free are increasing. That’s despite his never admitting to the crime, showing contrition or giving the McCourt family the chance to bury Helen.

Simms was convicted at Liverpool Crown of the 22-year-old insurance clerk’s 1988 murder on overwhelming forensic and eye-witness evidence.

Mrs McCourt described Simms as “sick” and compared him to Moors Murderer Ian Brady for denying Helen a prope funeral. Release without confession would further reduce the chances of discovering Helen’s final resting place, she believes.

“It’s the only thing, it’s the last thing I can do for my daughter,” she said.

“No mother wants to bury their child but not to be able to do that when you know they’re gone and can’t come back - the pain of that is indescribable.

“The pain is still here and it hurts so much.”

Mrs McCourt, 72, is campaigning for the law to be changed, denying killers who withhold that information the chance of freedom.

She said: “It’s a sick thing, it’s like he’s stolen my daughter’s body.

“He killed her and he’s now holding on to where her body is - he’s the only person who knows.

“It’s a very dangerous thing for our communities because killers are being put back in the community.

“This law has to be done, the Government can’t ignore it.”

Mrs McCourt will take her petition for “Helen’s Law”, which has more than 300,000 signatures on Change.org, to Downing Street tomorrow.

“The hard thing is that there’s no grave to go to and place flowers on,” she said.

“If this man is released, he knows where Helen’s body is buried and he could go back to the spot where she is.

“It’s like a trophy for him. It’s total sickness and sick people like that are dangerous and can’t be released.

“I want him to know that he’s not kidding me and I’m going to fight to keep him in.”

The much delayed parole hearing for Simms was held at Wymott Prison last month.

Mrs McCourt would not have been able to attend even if she had not been abroad because the parole board is insisting on using the victim impact statement that she submitted to them in April last year.

She has complained previously that it is unfair that her evidence will be far less fresh in the panel’s memory than that backing Simms’s case.

She said: “I have just got to sit tight now. I have been in touch with the probation service and they said that it would be ‘at least’ a fortnight before I get a call. I am just praying it’s the right news when it comes.”