The mother of murder victim Helen McCourt says she is “horrified” her daughter’s killer is to be released having never revealed where he hid her body.
Marie McCourt said she was “in shock” after the Parole Board’s ruling, three decades after her 22-year-old daughter went missing.
The decision came after her campaign to keep killers behind bars until they lead police to the victim’s body – dubbed Helen’s Law – failed to be ratified before parliament was dissolved.
Speaking at the family home in Billinge, Merseyside, Ms McCourt said: “I’m just in a state of shock to be honest.
“I got a call this morning and was told he was being released.
“I’m still trying to deal with it… I’m horrified by it.
“I just wonder if some of these people who feel that they’re safe to be released… it’s okay for them, they are not going to live by them.
“But the people in the area, they will have to put up with that.”
Helen McCourt was murdered in 1988 after disappearing as she made her way home from work in Liverpool.
Pub landlord Ian Simms was convicted the following year based on DNA evidence, and has been serving his life sentence at HMP Garth in Leyland, Lancashire.
He has always maintained his innocence and the body of Ms McCourt, who worked as an insurance clerk, has never been found.
The Parole Board said on Thursday that Simms has “met the test for release”, which would be subject to a series of conditions.
These include residing at a designated address, to be “of good behaviour” and to report for supervision appointments.
The 63-year-old, who ran the George and Dragon in Billinge, will also have to wear a tagging device to monitor his whereabouts, observe a curfew and avoid any contact with Ms McCourt’s family.
The Parole Board said it “carefully considered” Simms’ failure to disclose the location of Mrs McCourt’s body and concluded there is “no prospect of Simms ever disclosing the whereabouts of his victim even if he were kept in prison until he died”.
It said this refusal – which it concluded demonstrated a lack of empathy – continues to cause distress to Ms McCourt’s family.
However, it said denial was not a “necessarily determining factor” and also considered evidence from two psychologists who recommended release.
His case was heard on 8 November, during which Ms McCourt’s family called on Simms to end the “torture” and reveal once and for all where he hid her body.
Ms McCourt’s mother Marie, who attended the hearing, has campaigned for a law denying parole to killers who refuse to reveal the location of their victims’ bodies.
The legislation – Helen’s Law – made it through the early stages of ratification before parliament was dissolved for the election. This means the process has to begin again after the election.
The mother of murder victim Helen McCourt says she is “horrified” her daughter’s killer is to be released having never revealed where he hid her body. Marie McCourt said she was “in shock” after the Parole Board’s ruling, three decades after her 22-year-old daughter went missing.