A notorious killer will not be completely free until January 2018 at the earliest, his victim’s mother today revealed.
Marie McCourt said she was taking “some comfort” from the surprise discovery after recently suffering the devastating blow of daughter Helen’s murderer Ian Simms’s winning a move to an open prison.
The Parole Board recommendation was backed by the Ministry of Justice last month despite 11th hour protestations and the delivery of a 300,000-name “Helen’s Law” petition begging the Government not to allow murderers free if they have not first revealed the whereabouts of their victims’ bodies.
Insurance clerk Helen, 22, arrived back in Billinge from a day’s work in Liverpool on February 9 1988 but then never reached home. Suspicion soon fell on pub landlord Simms who would eventually be convicted on a large amount of forensic evidence including Helen’s blood in his flat above the George and Dragon, her earring in his car boot and discarded clothing.
But her body was never found. Simms’s defence was that while she had died in his pub, someone else must have done it and framed him for it.
The now 59-year-old has continued to maintain his innocence - a fact that has kept him behind bars far longer than most killers. But the authorities have now put him on the road to release. Within weeks, if he behaves, he could be allowed on escorted town visits.
But Mrs McCourt said she was surprised to learn from her victim information officer that it will be the year after next before his next parole hearing.
She said: “After all the bad news this is of some comfort. We had feared it might be sooner. And of course if he doesn’t behave himself during this period he will be sent back to a closed prison.
“I don’t know where he is now. I just hope it’s a long way from here. Meanwhile I am waiting to hear if my suggestions for conditions on his licence - such as where he shouldn’t be allowed to set foot - have been accepted.”