Mum pins hope on ‘last best chance’

Ian Simms with police officers at the time of the killing
Ian Simms with police officers at the time of the killing
Share this article

A murder victim’s mother believes a new TV documentary is the “last best chance” for the killer’s family to pressure him into revealing the whereabouts of her body.

Sunday’s hour-long programme will cover in detail the notorious case of Billinge insurance clerk Helen McCourt who was killed by Ian Simms 26 years ago but whose remains have never been found.

Pub landlord Simms has been locked up ever since and, despite overwhelming evidence against him, has defiantly maintained that he is innocent and therefore can’t make such a disclosure.

But Marie McCourt, who was interviewed extensively for the Crime and Investigation Channel programme a Town and Country Murder, believes that Simms’s relatives could hold the key to the revelation she is so desperate to hear.

She said: “His children - who were four and six at the time Helen died - will now be in their 30s. I am certain that from that early age he impressed on them that he was blameless and that the whole case against him was a travesty. He was probably very convincing.

“But now they have grown up they have a chance to see exactly what did happen and what evidence was presented in court - it will doubtless differ greatly from his version of events.

“It may be that they don’t live around here anymore and haven’t seen much in the media since. I think this is the last best chance for them to realise exactly what their father did and put him under pressure to come clean and say where Helen is.”

Helen vanished on her way home from work in Liverpool on the stormy evening of February 9, 1988.

All police investigations led to the landlord of the George and Dragon pub in Billinge and he was convicted on a large amount of forensic evidence in the pub flat, the boot of his car and his and Helen’s dumped and bloodied clothes.

Mrs McCourt is still awaiting news of when Simms’s latest parole hearing will take place. She gave evidence last year explaining why she thought he should remain behind bars only to discover a fortnight later that it was adjourned and Simms did not present his case.

A new date was set in the spring at which she wanted to re-testify so that her evidence was as fresh as Simms’s in the panel’s mind. In the end she was allowed to submit a written addendum which discribed the fresh distress caused by a fruitless exhumation in search of Helen’s body in Billinge St Aidan’s churchyard last October.

But after several more weeks of waiting for a verdict, an angry Mrs McCourt was informed, without any explanation, that Simms had again failed to testify and the hearing had been adjourned indefinitely.

A Town and Country Murder can be seen at 9pm on Sunday June 8 on Crime and Investigation (Sky channel 553, Virgin Media 237 or BT 433).