Murderer's new bid for freedom nears

Ian SimmsIan Simms
Ian Simms
A MURDERER could walk free from prison despite never telling his victim's family where her body is.

Ian Simms, who was convicted and given a life sentence for abducting and murdering Helen, a 22-year-old insurance clerk, in Billinge in 1988.

Previous parole bids by the former pub landlord have been blocked, probably due to his refusal to reveal to Helen’s family where he hid her body.

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But since than the law has changed, meaning that prisoners serving a life sentence do not need to show remorse for their crimes.

Her mum Marie McCourt launched a petition in December calling on the Government to introduce Helen’s Law, where hiding a body, preventing a burial and obstructing a coroner become criminal offences - with ‘whole life’ tariffs. Mrs McCourt is set to meet with justice minister Mike Penning in early February to discuss the issue but this is likely to be too late to stop Simms being released.

His parole hearing will be held tomorrow (Tuesday) while Mrs McCourt, who has spoken at previous hearings, is away in holiday.

She had been hoping to meet Mr Penning before Christmas but is still determined to see the law introduced to help other families.

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She said: ““He should not be released until he shows remorse and to do so he has to say from where my daughter’s remains can be recovered.

“If he won’t do that he should be told he will be in prison until he dies.

“It has been horrific for my family to deal with the ongoing part of this, going out and searching for my daughter, getting our hopes raised and dashed, writing to him.

“I don’t believe he will ever tell us unless it is the only way he will get out of prison. It would not be putting pressure on him or torturing him, it would be giving him the choice, tell us or don’t come out of prison.

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“In my eyes not telling us is a continuation of the crime itself.

“If parole is granted, my hopes of finding my daughter may never be realised. No other family should live this ordeal.”

She said her family had endured the nightmare for 28 years and had regularly written letters to Simms asking for him to reveal where Helen’s body could be found.

The meeting with Mr Penning has been arranged for February 4 after St Helens North MP Conor McGinn raised the issue in the House of Commons in December last year.

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He said: “I’m glad the Minister has agreed to meet with Marie and I hope that this will lead to a review of the guidelines.

“The impact of a murder to the family and friends of the victim is devastating, even more so when the killer refuses to allow a dignified final resting place.

“Those who are convicted of murder should not be considered for release if they do not provide information about the location of their victim’s remains, which compounds the loss and devastation of the victims’ families.”

The petition has so far been signed by 176,440 people.

Simms’s conviction on overwhelming forensic evidence made legal history as only the third ever UK murder trial without a body.

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Police have also never given up their search for Helen’s body.

In 2013, they exhumed a grave at St Aiden’s Church in Billinge after officers received information that her body may have been placed in someone else’s grave but nothing was found.

To sign the petition visit