Simms’ latest bid to be freed from jail

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MARIE McCourt, the mother of Billinge murder victim Helen, is facing an anxious wait to discover whether her daughter’s killer can take his first steps towards freedom.

As expected, Mrs McCourt did not come face to face with Ian Simms at Leyland’s Garth Prison on Monday as the former Billinge pub landlord went through the two-yearly ritual of trying to end a jail sentence which has now lasted quarter of a century.

The 56-year-old chose not to be present when Mrs McCourt read out her victim impact statement to the panel explaining why the man jailed for taking daughter Helen’s life should not be released or even allowed to move into a lower category of prison.

The reason Simms is still behind bars - when most people convicted of a single murder would have been released - is that he still maintains his innocence in the face of overwhelming evidence and, crucially, has never disclosed what he did with Helen’s body.

Helen, a 22-year-old insurance clerk, vanished after returning from her job in Liverpool on a bus one windy evening in February 1988. Despite only being a few hundred yards from home she was never seen again.

Mrs McCourt said: “His absence this week suggests that he has not taken any steps towards showing remorse.

“It is his finally admitting to what he did that gives me the best chance of ever finding out what happened to Helen.”

While she was unable to see what Simms was going to say to plead to be set free from prison at his part of the hearing, she was obliged to show her victim impact statement to his legal team well in advance.