Mum’s agony over delayed parole review

THE mum of murder victim Helen McCourt has spoken of her relief tingled with anger at yet another delay in parole proceedings for killer Ian Simms.
Helen McCourtHelen McCourt
Helen McCourt

Marie McCourt was expecting to hear the result of a parole hearing – which had been put back from April – last week, but was informed it would be deferred until autumn.

The impending proceedings has made Mrs McCourt, who is from Billinge, ill, and she fears that because the first part of the hearing, where she gave her victim impact statement, was held at a lower category prison, he could soon be released. The 58-year-old has been in Wymott Prison, Leyland, for 27 years - 11 years longer than his minimum term imposed by a Liverpool Crown Court judge.

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Mrs McCourt said: “My victim probation officer explained that it will be going ahead but it will be deferred, but had no details as to why. Only Simms’ probation officer would have that right to know what’s going on from that side of things.

“This happened 18 months ago, when a parole hearing was delayed and I was told it would take place in autumn but in the end it was postponed until the following spring.

“In a way, I feel a bit of relief. For the last two weeks I have been really ill and I put that down to the stress of the hearing. I had been in bed for the last three days as I have had no energy. My neck was sore, like I had whiplash, but I am picking myself up now.”

Mrs McCourt added that she does not believe Simms, a former pub landlord, should be released until he has revealed where his 22-year-old victim’s remains are.

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She said: “I hope to get a petition as I don’t think it is right for anyone to be set free if they have shown no remorse or refuse to let families know where their loved one has been buried.

“If they don’t comply, they should look at a life sentence that does means life. In 27 years Simms has not altered and dug his heels in.

“At the time of Simms’ sentence, I thought that after two years, he would appeal to reduce his sentence and when that was thrown out he would admit what he had done, but he didn’t.

“Life should mean life in this case. How do we know there haven’t been any other murders that we don’t know about? What about my rights as a mother? I have spent 27 years imprisoned every time I go out and wonder where she is. My life has been destroyed.”