Mother of murdered Helen McCourt will fight to attend killer's latest parole hearing (From St Helens Star)
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Mother of murdered Helen McCourt will fight to attend killer's latest parole hearing
MARIE McCourt will challenge parole board bosses if they prevent her from attending the latest bid for freedom by the man who killed her daughter.
Ian Simms, who murdered 22-year-old Helen McCourt 25 years ago, is expected to go before a parole board next month at Garth Prison, Leyland.
He has never admitted killing Helen, nor has he revealed where her remains were hidden.
Marie, aged 69 and from Billinge, wants to contest the application and present a statement before parole board judges.
However, she has been told her submissions should be made via video link – rather than directly at the prison.
Marie rejects this – and wants to deliver a statement to the faces of parole judges.
At a previous hearing for Simms four years ago, she was able to present her case in person – becoming one of the first victims’ relatives to do so after Ministry of Justice changed the law.
On that occasion she had hoped to look at Simms in the eye, but administrators of the hearings ensure there is no contact between victims’ relatives and prisoners.
Marie, a vocal campaigner for victims’ relatives with Support After Murder and Manslaughter, told the Star: “I’ve been told it has to be by video link – but I’ve said I will not do that.
“I want to be there in front of those judges – that way you can come across better than you ever can on camera.
“I’m fighting to be there – I want those judges to look at me and judge me as a person.
“I tell members of our support group how important it is to read out your statement at the hearing and make an impact.
“That way they can hear in your voice and see on your face the emotion and trauma that you’ve been through.”
Simms, who was found guilty of murder following a trial in 1989, was ordered to serve a minimum tariff of 16 years before he could be considered for release on licence.
He has been denied parole at a succession of hearings.
However, had he confessed to where Helen’s remains are hidden it is likely he potentially would have been released by now.
Helen, an attractive insurance clerk, went missing after getting off a bus on Main Street, Billinge, 200 yards from the family home on Standish Avenue.
Bloodstained clothes belonging to Simms were found at Hollins Green, Warrington, and after he was arrested part of Helen’s opal and sapphire earring and traces of blood were discovered in the boot of his car.
Weeks later Helen’s clothing was found near the banks of the River Irlam in Warrington.
However, despite extensive searches and excavations across the north west – many of them led by Marie and her family – her remains remain undiscovered.
It is believed Simms was the first person in the UK to be convicted on DNA evidence without the victim’s body having been discovered.
Marie added: “If Simms were to be released he would be breaching his licence conditions straight away, as he has never revealed where Helen’s remains are, which is denying her the right to a Christian burial, and the coroner’s right to hold an inquest.
“First and foremost they (the parole judges) have to consider the safety of the public and whether they are sorry for their crime.
“He should not be released – he is a man who has found the perfect place to hide a body.”