Helen McCourt murder: Mother of murdered woman fails in bid to send killer back to prison | UK News

Helen McCourt murder: Mother of murdered woman fails in bid to send killer back to prison | UK News

The mother of a murdered woman has failed in a legal bid to overturn a decision to release her daughter’s killer.

Marie McCourt, of Billinge, Merseyside, says former pub landlord Ian Simms should not be released from jail until he reveals where he hid the body of her daughter, Helen McCourt.

The 22-year-old insurance clerk was murdered in Billinge in February 1988, while on her way home.

Marie McCourt, mother of Helen McCourt
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Marie McCourt, mother of Helen McCourt, campaigned to prevent Ian Simms’ release

Simms, now 64, was found guilty of her abduction and murder after a trial at Liverpool Crown Court in March 1989. He was given a life sentence, with a minimum term of 16 years.

Although he was convicted on DNA evidence, he has always maintained his innocence.

Her body has never been found.

In November last year, the Parole Board recommended the release of Simms on licence, and he was freed three months later in February.

The board reviewed its decision after a challenge from Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, but concluded in January that Simms should be set free.

Ms McCourt also said the decision was wrong and launched a legal challenge, but two judges ruled against her on Tuesday.

Lady Justice Macur and Mr Justice Chamberlain had considered Ms McCourt’s judicial review application at a virtual High Court in July but decided that a Parole Board panel decision “involved no arguable public law error”.

Ian Simms has never revealed where he hid Helen McCourt's body
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Ian Simms was convicted in 1989 of her murder

They added, in a written ruling: “The panel were acutely aware of the sensitivities in this case and adopted a careful and balanced approach both to the procedure to be adopted and to the assessment of Simms’ current risk.”

The judges said they had decided to refuse to give Ms McCourt, who is in her 70s, permission to apply for a judicial review.

A Parole Board spokesman said after the ruling: “The Parole Board notes the decision of the court in the judicial review proceedings brought by Marie McCourt.

“The Parole Board has immense sympathy for families of victims who have never been found and recognises the pain and anguish they have endured.

“The Board remains absolutely committed to ensuring that victims and their families are treated with the utmost respect and dignity during the parole process and appreciates the distress that a parole review of the offender is likely to cause.

“The Parole Board is however required, by law to focus on whether a prisoner’s continued detention remains necessary for the protection of the public.”



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