Decision to move killer to open prison is approved

The decision to move convicted murderer Ian Simms to an open prison has been approved.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 5th April 2016, 12:24 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th April 2016, 12:26 pm
Ian Simms
Ian Simms

A parole board recommended in February that Simms, a former Billinge pub landlord who was convicted of killing 22-year-old Helen McCourt in 1988, be moved to an open prison.

But the move needed to be approved by the Ministry of Justice and Helen’s mum, Marie, had called on them to block the move as she believes it is one step away from Simms being released, despite the fact he has never revealed where Helen’s body is.

Mrs McCourt has told WiganToday that the recommendation has now been approved but she believes there may still be time to ensure Helen’s Law is introduced and block Simms’ move to an open prison.

Helen McCourt

The law, a petition for which has been signed by more than 330,000 people, is calling for whole life sentences for murderers who show no remorse and refuse to reveal where they have hidden a body.

She said: “I am so disappointed at the fact our petition, which has nearly half a million signatures, has been ignored.

“They have given me a date but it is a way off so I am hoping to contest it still. I am hoping to get this brought forward and debated in parliament before the autumn.

“If it is agreed and Helen’s Law is introduced, hopefully it won’t be too late.

Helen McCourt

“The Government is happy with the recommendation made by the parole board but they don’t have to live with it.

“I don’t care if Simms is released, but I do care if he is released without revealing where my daughter’s body is.”

A Prison Service spokesperson said: “We do not comment on individual cases.

“Public protection is our top priority and transfers to open conditions can only be made after a thorough, expert, risk assessment carried out by the independent Parole Board.

“A transfer to open prison does not guarantee eventual release in any form – whether that be on a temporary or other form of licence. Before that happens, offenders must meet another stringent set of tests.”

To sign the petition click here