COMMENT - Victims left in the dark by justice system

IT is easy to see why Marie McCourt is upset.

For weeks she had been gearing up for a prison hearing which she would address to say killer Ian Simms’s failure to disclose the whereabouts of her daughter Helen’s body is still a constant torture to her and the reason why he should not yet be released.

And after reading it to the panel she was sent home on the understanding that Simms would be up next, and she was told she would learn the Parole Board’s verdict on a possible move to a lower security prison a fortnight later. That deadline passed this week with a phone call informing the Billinge mum that the rest of the hearing never took place and has now been postponed indfinitely.

Why no-one could tell her this immediately afterwards instead of making her fret for two weeks, no-one will say. Nor will the system allow her to be told the reasons why the hearing was discontinued.

This treatment of a murder victim’s family is simply unacceptable and one hopes Mrs McCourt’s angry letters to top brass like Chris Grayling will bring about communication and compassion improvements.