MARIE McCourt has spent years searching for her daughter’s body – and now on the 30th anniversary since Helen was murdered she hopes others will join in her in ensuring her killer never walks free.

Helen McCourt, from Billinge was murdered on February 9, 1988 – and despite George and Dragon pub landlord Ian Simms being jailed for the crime – he has never admitted what he did or where Helen’s body is.

Her mum Marie, 74, has been campaigning for a new law to be adopted, which would mean convicted murders who refuse to reveal the whereabouts of their victims’ bodies would remain behind bars.

It is to be called Helen’s Law in her daughter’s memory.

Gran-of-two Marie said: “Nobody can understand the torture you face when your child is taken from you, never mind never knowing where they are.

“We found out there was a problem on the track because a branch fell, so we didn’t worry at first when she didn’t get home for when she said.

“After a while I wasn’t in any fit state, I reported her missing because I knew something had happened to her – though we could never have guessed what.

“Thirty years on and I still can’t give her her own little grave.

“Losing Helen was the worst thing to ever happen to me and our family – you never think something like this would happen to you, or your children.

“Everyone has a right when they die to have the service they want and when someone’s life is taken from us, we need a place and a way to say good bye.

“That’s something we have never had. We have a stone for her, but she isn’t there.

“That’s why I started campaigning for Helen’s Law years ago.”

Marie said that similar laws, inspired by her campaign, have been issued in Australia, yet Helen’s Law has still not been passed.

She added: “I just want to know where my daughter is, I know she is dead, but I want to know what happened to my child.

“Ian Simms has never admitted what he did, evidence is what got him convicted, but he has never revealed what my Helen went through.

“All I know is that she came to a violent end and Ian Simms did it.

“I hope that if this law is passed people who kill will be in prison for life if they don’t reveal where their victim’s bodies are.

“Nobody should have to face what we, and other families in similar cases, have.”

St Helens Star:

Marie McCourt

Former editor of the Star, Steve Leary, who was deputy editor at the time of Helen’s murder, added: “It was probably the most dramatic story that we, or any other media in St Helens, ever covered.

“A young girl who was just a few yards from her home disappeared and she’s not been seen since.

“I remember that night as it was hurricane conditions outside, I was working late in the office and when I went home bits of roof were flying off.

“The investigation that led to Simms was from bits and bobs of evidence and even now not many have been convicted without a body.

“Police did a good job in securing the conviction.

“There was a huge community effort in searching for Helen – particularly in Billinge.

“This case transcends normal crime and is still in the hearts of people.

“My thoughts have always been with Marie who has doggedly searched for clues and been tenacious in keeping Simms behind bars as well as looking for Helen.

“I hope she is found so that her mother can give her a proper Christian burial.”

Ian Simms was found guilty of murder following a trial in 1989 and 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.

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.

Insurance clerk Helen, 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.

After he was arrested part of Helen’s opal and sapphire earring and traces of blood were discovered in the boot of his car.

Helen’s clothing was later found near the banks of the River Irlam in Warrington.

Conor McGinn MP, who has been supporting the campaign, has welcomed a Government commitment aimed at getting Helen’s Law on to the statute book.

The St Helens North MP said: “On the 30th anniversary of Helen’s death, Marie and her family will be in the thoughts and prayers of hundreds of thousands of people across the country who are supporting the campaign to create a law in Helen’s memory and keep these murderers behind bars, where they belong.

“In recent days, the Government has committed to working with me and Marie and is currently taking legal advice on the options available to introduce Helen’s Law in to legislation.

“I’ll be meeting with Justice Ministers and supporting MPs in the coming weeks to see how we can get this on the statute books.

“Marie has waited 30 years, and many other families like hers have similarly waited too long.

“It’s time for the Government and Parliament to do the right thing for the victims, their families and the country – and give us Helen’s Law.”

A memorial service to remember Helen will be held at St Mary’s RC Church on Birchley Road, Billinge on Friday, February 9 from 7.30pm.

It will be a celebration of Helen’s short life and will include a reading from Marie’s 14-year-old granddaughter Molly.

For more on the campaign visit