Marie McCourt gives evidence in London as Parole Board consider whether Ian Simms should be released

The mother of murdered Helen McCourt has called on her killer to end the "torture" and reveal once and for all where he hid her body.

Thursday, 7th November 2019, 3:38 pm
Marie McCourt, mother of Helen McCourt, after she gave evidence at a Parole board hearing on the release of Ian Simms who murdered her daughter in 1988
Marie McCourt, mother of Helen McCourt, after she gave evidence at a Parole board hearing on the release of Ian Simms who murdered her daughter in 1988

Marie McCourt told Ian Simms: "Then you can look forward to a day of being released."

She has pleaded with the murderer to tell her the whereabouts of her daughter's body ever since the insurance clerk vanished on her way home from work in 1988.

But the pub landlord, who was convicted by a jury on overwhelming DNA evidence of the 22-year-old's abduction and murder, is still in jail and has always maintained his innocence.

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Mrs McCourt spoke to reporters on Thursday after giving evidence at a Parole Board hearing where a panel will consider whether he should be released.

She said: "To lose a loved one is heartbreaking. To lose a loved one to murder is horrific.

"To lose a loved one to murder and never be able to lay them to rest is an unimaginable torture.

"I hope and pray the parole judges will listen to my plea and that of my son, Michael, and make the right decision for us.

"And I urge Ian Simms please, please do the right thing, end this torture and tell us where Helen's remains can be recovered. Then you also can look forward to a day of being released."

Becoming tearful, she said the hearing was difficult, but added: "I feel better having come out. This is the only thing I can do for my child.

"I can't do anything but fight for justice."

She said she longs to have somewhere to call a burial ground, and somewhere the family can lay flowers or visit when it's her birthday.

Mrs McCourt has campaigned relentlessly to keep Simms behind bars until he helps lead police to her daughter's body, as well as calling for laws to deny killers parole if they refuse to reveal such information.

The legislation came close to being ratified in Parliament before it was dissolved ahead of the General Election, which Mrs McCourt said has put her back to "square one" and risks Simms being released.

The Prisoners (Disclosure Of Information About Victims) Bill, known as Helen's Law, was brought to Parliament last month but only got to the early stages of being debated by MPs.

Mrs McCourt, from St Helens, said: "Helen's Law is not just for me but for the many other families in this appalling situation.

"Killers should not be granted parole until they reveal where their victim's remains have been found.

"I urge the new government to stop this torture and introduce Helen's Law as soon as possible.

"We can't leave this longer, we are getting too many cases now of where there has been a murder and then victim's body has not been found.

"We had two in a week Monday gone.

"When you don't have a body, you can't say a last goodbye. And it leaves you so broken inside. You can't go forward, you're trapped waiting."

Last week, Ben Lacomba was found guilty of killing his ex-lover Sarah Wellgreen and is yet to be sentenced.

The mother-of-five's body has never been found.

Sailor Andrew Griggs was also found guilty of killing his pregnant wife Debbie and has been jailed for a minimum of 20 years.

The mother-of-three was expecting their fourth child when she vanished 20 years ago.

Parole Board guidance already says offenders who withhold information may still pose a risk to the public and could face longer in prison.

Courts can also hand down tougher sentences for murderers who deliberately conceal the location of a body.

But the Bill would make it a legal requirement for the Parole Board to take into account a killer's failure to disclose the location of their victim's remains when considering them for release.

MPs voted in favour of the law in 2016 but it has twice failed to become law because two elections have disrupted its progress through Parliament.

The Parole Board is expected to make a decision on Simms' release within two weeks.