I fear I’ll die be­fore I lay my mur­dered girl to rest.. we are still wait­ing for He­len’s Law

Mum’s plea as killer could be freed

Sunday Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - BY FIONA DUFFY

A MUM whose daugh­ter was mur­dered nearly 30 years ago has pleaded with the killer to fi­nally re­veal what he did with the body.

Tor­mented Marie McCourt has spent decades won­der­ing what hap­pened to her beloved 22-year-old girl He­len.

The man con­victed of mur­der­ing her, pub land­lord Ian Simms, is com­ing up for pa­role and could be freed from jail soon af­ter Christ­mas.

But he has al­ways re­fused to tell au­thor­i­ties what he did with He­len’s re­mains.

And Marie, now 74, is afraid she will go to her own grave with­out ever learn­ing the truth.

She said: “Time is run­ning out. My great­est fear is to die with­out lay­ing my mur­dered child to rest.”

Marie has been cam­paign­ing for an Act dubbed He­len’s Law, which would rule that killers who refuse to say where their vic­tims’ bod­ies are buried would never be re­leased.

It would ease the an­guish of hun­dreds of rel­a­tives such as Win­nie John­son, who died with­out know­ing what Moors fiend Ian Brady did with her son Keith, 12. Next Wed­nes­day it will be a year since a “No body, no pa­role” bill was unan­i­mously backed by MPs in the Com­mons. Marie’s lo­cal Labour MP Conor McGinn pre­sented the bill, more than 400,000 peo­ple have signed an e-pe­ti­tion and the loved ones of many other mur­der vic­tims have lent sup­port. But the bill failed to get a vi­tal sec­ond read­ing and “fell”, mean­ing it was shelved, when Theresa May called the elec­tion ear­lier this year. Now Marie is pray­ing it will be res­ur­rected and still go on to be­come law. She said: “He­len’s Law is the only hope. “I’m ter­ri­fied at the thought of Simms be­ing re­leased from prison to dance on her grave. “I have lived my life wait­ing ev­ery day for that one call from the po­lice to say, ‘Simms has con­fessed and we are look­ing at this area’. “I want to lay my daugh­ter to rest and I want it to be her legacy that killers who hide their vic­tims and don’t re­veal where they are can never ex­pect to be re­leased.” In­sur­ance clerk He­len was bru­tally mur­dered on her way home from work in Fe­bru­ary 1988. Simms was con­victed of her mur­der at Liver­pool Crown Court amid over- whelm­ing foren­sic and cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence. In the years that fol­lowed, Marie’s fam­ily em­barked on a painstak­ing but vain search for He­len’s body. They pored over maps, hired snif­fer dogs, crawled through rat-in­fested drains and tun­nels, and even emp­tied rub­ble from mine shafts with their bare hands. In 1992 Marie wrote to Simms say­ing: “As a mother I beg you to end this night­mare now be­fore it is too late. “Ei­ther of us could die to­mor­row. Please let me give He­len a Chris­tian burial for both our sakes.” But Simms, who claimed at his 16-day trial that some­one had in­crim­i­nated him, sent back only an of­fen­sive re­ply threat­en­ing to seek “jus­tice” once free. Marie, of Billinge, St He­lens, Mersey­side, said: “His re­fusal to co­op­er­ate shows his com­plete lack of re­morse.” Simms’ next pa­role hear­ing is due be­tween Jan­uary and April. Mr McGinn, who plans to raise the is­sue in Par­lia­ment this week, said: “I am con­tin­u­ing to fight to get He­len’s Law on the statute book. “It would fi­nally give peace to all those fam­i­lies who still do not know what hap­pened to loved ones.” The call for He­len’s Law has co­in­cided with sim­i­lar cam­paigns in sev­eral Aus­tralian states. fea­tures@sun­day mir­ror.co.uk

Marie says Simms shouldn’t be freed

Killer Simms shows no re­morse

He­len’s body was never found

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