Mum of murdered Helen McCourt "over the moon" at plans to back change in legislation
After decades of fighting for the justice of her murdered daughter, Helen McCourt's mum has said she is 'over the moon' that a minister has backed calls to penalise killers who refuse to reveal the location of their victims' bodies.
Rory Stewart, Minister for Courts and Justice, has described the act of concealing the whereabouts of a body "absolutely disgusting”, during questions in the Commons.
The Minister said that discussions were taking place and that the Government was confident it would be able to bring forward a legal response to impose consequences for those who keep the whereabouts of their victim's body secret.
Marie McCourt, whose daughter Helen was murdered by Billinge pub landlord Ian Simms 30 years ago but whose body has never been found, today said she was "over the moon" at the news.
She has been campaigning for "Helen's Law" for several years, gathering together a petition of almost 500,000 names calling for killers who refuse to disclose the whereabouts of their victims' remains be kept behind bars.
Time had appeared to be running out as she lobbied justice secretary David Gauke after it was revealed that Simms - already recently moved to a lower security category of prison - was to be allowed two escorted town visits in May and was to have enjoyed two unescorted visits this month.
But Mr Stewart’s announcement came as a "wonderful shock" for Mrs McCourt.
She added: "It is a stunning piece of news: I am over the moon. After all these years and all this trying, the campaign has made this breakthrough.
"I can finally start tidying up my home of all the papers."
During Justice questions at the Common; Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, asked about the merits of bringing forward legislative proposals on a "no body, no parole" law, also known as “Helen’s law”
Justice minister Rory Stewart told MPs: "There is something peculiarly disgusting about the sadism involved in an individual murdering somebody and then refusing to reveal the location of the victim's body.
"There have been delays in terms of framing the right kind of legal response to this, but I am absolutely confident we can overcome that and officials are now bringing forward advice which I hope will achieve exactly what Honourable and Right Honourable Members have been campaigning for through a different method."
Mr Metcalfe MP said the introduction of a "no body, no parole" law, known as Helen's Law, was important to his constituent Linda Jones, whose daughter Danielle was murdered in 2001 and the location of her body has not been revealed by her killer.
Mr Stewart responded to his question, saying: "A new proposal has now come up from the department providing two options which will be discussed by the Secretary of State and myself over the coming days in order to get a solution to this.
"But we are absolutely clear this is an absolutely disgusting practice and we ought to be able to use legal methods to impose consequences on individuals who refuse to reveal the location of a body."