Marie McCourt 'in shock' and 'horrified' by Ian Simms release decision

Marie McCourt
Marie McCourt

Helen McCourt's mother Marie McCourt has said she is "in shock" and "horrified" at the decision to release her daughter's killer Ian Simms.

Speaking at the family home in Billinge, Helen's mother, Marie, shaking with anger, said she received a call this morning from her victim liaison officer at Merseyside Probation Service, and was still trying to process the news.

She said: "I'm just in a state of shock to be honest. I got a call this morning and was told he was being released. 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. Well 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.

"I just wonder if some of these people who feel that they're safe to be released... it's OK for them, they are not going to live by them.

"But the people in the area, they will have to put up with that."

The final decision on when Simms is released will be made by the Prison Service, although there will now be a three-week period during which either the Justice Secretary or even the killer himself can appeal.

It means Simms will not be released before December 12, the Parole Board said. The decision is subject to a series of conditions including to reside at a designated address, to be "of good behaviour" and to report for supervision appointments.

Conor McGinn, the Labour Party candidate standing for re-election as MP for St Helens North, said: "I have spoken to Marie McCourt and her family who are shocked and devastated at the news that the Parole Board has decided to release Helen’s killer.

"For Marie to have won her campaign for Helen’s Law, only to see her own daughter’s killer released before it is introduced, is heartbreaking and perverse.

"The community in Billinge and St Helens, and indeed the British public as a whole, will share a sense of outrage and disgust.

"To free Helen McCourt’s killer now is an affront to justice and decency, and a betrayal of the commitments made to the McCourt family.

"I have contacted the Justice Secretary to ask for his urgent intervention. This man, like other murderers, must stay behind bars until he gives information about the location of his victims’ remains."

Mrs McCourt, who has campaigned relentlessly to keep Simms behind bars until he helps lead police to her daughter's body, added: "I've been fighting for this all these years and the last four years it's been going through, Helen's Law.

"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. 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".

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said:“We understand this will be an extremely upsetting decision for the family of Helen McCourt and our heartfelt sympathies remain with them.

“Ian Simms will be released on licence and subject to strict conditions – and faces an immediate return to prison if he fails to comply. His licence will remain in place for the rest of his life.

“The release of life sentence prisoners is a matter for the independent Parole Board, which carries out a full risk assessment before making a decision.”