Marie McCourt’s anger at parole system

Marie McCourt
Marie McCourt
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A Billinge mum has criticised the parole system as her agonising wait to find out if her daughter’s killer will be freed from jail goes on.

Marie McCourt spoke after more than a fortnight of delays in discovering whether Ian Simms went before the parole board on March 31.

Simms was locked up for the murder of 22-year-old insurance clerk Helen McCourt but has never revealed what happened to the body in the 26 years since.

Mrs McCourt said that whatever the outcome of the parole hearing victims’ families are not given enough care and attention by the authorities.

She said: “I just think the way the victims’ families are treated by the whole system is awful and very unfair.

“They go out of their way to ensure a prisoner has access to a barrister or solicitor and can appeal the decisions, but we’ve no right to appeal and you have to apply to the judge just to attend the 
parole hearing.

“If he decides he doesn’t want the victim’s family there they can’t be there, and I just think that’s wrong.”

Mrs McCourt gave evidence to a panel at Leyland’s Garth Prison last year before Simms’s bid for freedom was adjourned for reasons which have not been disclosed.

Police recently made a fruitless search of St Aidan’s churchyard in Billinge, and Mrs McCourt has since written an addendum statement to the parole judge, explaining how much pain such false leads continue to cause her.

Mrs McCourt also says she wants the system changed so Simms can remain in prison indefinitely until he admits what he has done with Helen’s remains.

She said: “I just think something needs to be done. I feel this man should be told that until he is prepared to divulge where the burial site is he can never look forward to a release date.”