A review has been ordered into the decision to approve the release of a murderer who has never revealed the whereabouts of his victim’s body.
The family of Helen McCourt, who was 22 when she was killed, spoke of their shock last month when the Parole Board confirmed her killer Ian Simms had “met the test for release”.
Pub landlord Simms was convicted of her 1988 murder following overwhelming DNA evidence but he has never admitted guilt or revealed where he left her body.
Her mother Marie has campaigned to keep killers behind bars until they lead police to the victim’s body – dubbed Helen’s Law – but the proposed legislation failed to be ratified before parliament was dissolved.
On Tuesday, it was confirmed the Parole Board will review its decision to sanction Simms’ release after a request by Justice Secretary Robert Buckland.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “After carefully considering the details of this case, we believe there is an arguable case to meet the threshold for reconsideration.
“An application has now been made to the independent Parole Board to have the case reconsidered.
“It is now for the Parole Board to decide whether the threshold is met for the decision to be formally reconsidered.”
Miss McCourt was abducted and killed as she made her way home from her job as an insurance clerk in Merseyside in 1988.
Simms was jailed in 1989 for the murder and has been serving his life sentence at HMP Garth in Leyland, Lancashire.
Last month the Parole Board said the 63-year-old had “met the test for release”, which would be subject to a series of conditions.
The conditions included living at a designated address, being “of good behaviour” and reporting for supervision appointments.
Simms would 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” his failure to disclose the location of Miss McCourt’s body and concluded there was “no prospect of Simms ever disclosing the whereabouts of his victim even if he were kept in prison until he died”.
It acknowledged Simms’ refusal demonstrated a lack of empathy and continued to cause distress to Miss McCourt’s family.
However, the Parole Board said denial was not a “necessarily determining factor” and also considered evidence from two psychologists who recommended release.
Simms’ case was heard on 8 November, during which Miss McCourt’s family called on the killer to end the “torture” and reveal once and for all where he hid her body.
Helen’s Law made it through the early stages of ratification before parliament was dissolved for the election, meaning the process has to begin again after Thursday’s poll.
A review has been ordered into the decision to approve the release of a murderer who has never revealed the whereabouts of his victim’s body. The family of Helen McCourt, who was 22 when she was killed, spoke of their shock last month when the Parole Board confirmed her killer Ian Simms had “met the test for release”.