/Murdered Helen McCourts killer Ian Simms released from jail

Murdered Helen McCourts killer Ian Simms released from jail

Helen McCourt’s killer, Ian Simms, has been released from prison, as a campaign by her family continues to keep him behind bars.

The former pub landlord, who is now 63, has never revealed where he buried Helen’s remains.

He attacked the 22-year-old in 1988 as she walked home from work in her job at an insurance company in Liverpool.

Helen’s mum, Marie McCourt, 76, had been demanding a Judicial Review of the decision to release Simms from his life sentence.

But she was dealt a blow on Tuesday when High Court judges ruled Ian Simms should be released from prison while the legal process takes place.

Mrs McCourt said she is devastated by the decision, as she prepares to mark the 32nd anniversary of Helen’s death on Sunday.

Helen’s mother Marie McCourt after she gave evidence at a Parole Board hearing over Ian Simms
(Image: PA)

“I cannot believe the insensitive timing of the Parole Board in releasing him so close to the anniversary of my daughter’s murder”, Mrs McCourt said.

“We understand the Parole Board is there for prisoners. But who is there for the victims and their families?”

She said she is pushing ahead for her application for a judicial review of the decision at the High Court.

Simms has repeatedly refused to reveal where Helen’s body is buried.

His motivation was believed to have been because Helen had repeatedly spurned the married father of two’s advances.

His silence has led to Marie, from Billinge, successfully campaigning for Helen’s Law.

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This means judges will be forced to consider none co-operation of prisoners during parole hearings.

Simms managed to secure his release in November 2019 before the bill is added to the statute books.

Marie McCourt (left) with her daughter Helen who was murdered by pub landlord Ian Simms
Marie McCourt (left) with her daughter Helen who was murdered by pub landlord Ian Simms
(Image: PA)

Marie McCourt has campaigned tirelessly against Ian Simms’ release unless he reveals where her daughter’s remains are.

Extensive searches have been carried out of the surrounding countryside near to where she went missing by family and friends.

For three years following Helen’s murder, the family were out every weekend searching, joined by up to 40 people sometimes.

They still regularly searched sites, to no avail.

She described how it is “an awful, awful thing when you can’t bury your child”.

Ian Simms during his trial for murdering Helen McCourt

“It is like a tap – drip, drip, dripping away in your head.

“If I wake up and listen to the news when a body has been found, I am in a terrible state of agitation until the victim has been identified.”

Mrs McCourt said of the searches: “We have had to search places where no normal decent people should go – in dirty, filthy sewers and in mineshafts looking for her body.

“He should be charged with preventing a burial.”

During the trial, the judge described how Simms had desecrated Helen’s remains, cast her garments to the rats and denied her family the opportunity to pay their last respects.

She described the killer as a “control freak and a psychopath”.

“After there is a death, there is usually a funeral to organise – but we have not been able to have that funeral and to grieve properly.”

She likened it to being in “a living nightmare”.

He is currently living in a bail hostel, where he is being electronically monitored and subjected to a curfew.

Marie McCourt searching woodland in Hollins Green with a forensics specialist, Peter Faulding
(Image: Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)

If the Parole Board’s decision to release him is overturned, he could be recalled to prison.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We completely understand the pain and anguish that the Parole Board’s decision has caused Marie McCourt and her family.

“The Lord Chancellor has asked the Parole Board to reconsider, but has no legal power to overrule these decisions.”

The spokesman said the High Court’s ruling meant they had to release Simms from custody though he will be recalled if the court later quashes the Parole Board decision.

Whatever the outcome of the legal proceedings, he will be on licence for life, subject to strict conditions and probation supervision when released, and he faces a return to prison if he fails to comply.

Simms has always maintained his innocent and was given a life sentence, with a minimum 16 year term.

He had been eligible to be considered for release in February 2004.

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