Helen McCourtImage copyright
PA

Image caption

Helen McCourt was murdered by Ian Simms in Billinge, Merseyside, in 1988

The mother of a murder victim is “horrified” her daughter’s killer will be freed despite never revealing where his victim’s body is.

Ian Simms, 63, was jailed in 1989 for murdering Helen McCourt who disappeared in February 1988, aged 22.

Simms was originally sentenced to a minimum of 16 years.

The killer was considered for parole for the seventh time on 8 November and officials said he “met the test for release”.

Earlier this month, Ms McCourt’s mother Marie urged Simms to reveal where her daughter’s remains are.

After receiving a call from her victim liaison officer earlier confirming Simms’ release, Mrs McCourt was shaking with anger.

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PA

Image caption

Ian Simms, seen here in 1988, was jailed for murder

“I’m just in a state of shock to be honest,” she said, from the family home in Billinge near St Helens, Merseyside .

“I’ve just had some forms come through, I think that’s on what grounds the parole board has granted him release on licence, but I don’t know all the conditions.

“I don’t know, some people are telling me little bits and this is the wrong way to do it.

“I was just in shock. I’m still trying to deal with it. I’m horrified by it, I’m horrified by it. This man is a danger, you know.”

After Simms was denied release at a hearing in 2016, but was subsequently transferred to an open prison “due to progress made”, where he has “followed the rules” when granted temporary release.

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Media caption‘Why should he be let out to torture us some more?’

The Parole Board said it had “carefully considered” Simms’ failure to reveal where he concealed Ms 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.”

The board added the refusal continues to cause understandable distress and misery to the victim’s family and the panel concluded this demonstrated a lack of empathy.

But it said denial was not a “necessarily-determining factor” and also considered evidence from two psychologists who recommended release.

The Parole Board said: “The progress that Mr Simms has made, the considerable change in his behaviour, the fact that he has not been involved in any violence or substance misuse for many years, his protective factors, the recommendations from all the professionals and all the evidence presented at the hearing, the panel was satisfied that Mr Simms met the test for release.”

Mrs McCourt has described not knowing the whereabouts of her daughter’s body as “torture”.

She has also urged the next government to introduce Helen’s Law, legislation that would deny parole to killers who do not disclose their victims’ remains.

The bill recently ran out of time, when the general election was called.

“If Helen’s Law had been on the statute books right now those judges would have to really make sure in their decision to release him that he would be safe,” said Mrs McCourt.

“They would have to go into that, they would have to obey that law and it hasn’t happened.”

She added she did not know when or where Simms would be released and had “very little to go on”.

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