A second major new television documentary about the murder of Helen McCourt is to be screened next month.
Just weeks after a Judge Rinder special - which prompted several new lines of inquiry for those still trying to find the former Wigan student’s body 31 years after her death - Sky TV is bringing out another hour-long feature about a case which still has many resonances and issues today.
The 22-year-old Billinge insurance clerk disappeared on the evening of February 9, 1988 having just arrived back in her village from a day’s work in Liverpool.
It should have been a two-minute walk from the bus stop to her home in Standish Avenue, but it was later discovered that she called in at the nearby George and Dragon pub on Main
Street where she was murdered by the landlord Ian Simms.
A large amount of forensic evidence saw Simms convicted of murder - even though her body has never been found and he continues to protest his innocence.
And while the quest to find Helen’s final resting place continues, efforts in recent years have focused as much on making sure that the killer never enjoys freedom again unless he finally confesses and reveals what happened to his victim’s remains.
Wigan Today received several calls from members of the public after Judge Rinder’s Crime Stories was aired in January including a man who replaced the roof on Simms’s mother’s house several months before Helen’s disappearance.
He said that Simms advised him to get rid of the old materials by taking them up to the incinerator at the then Billinge Hospital where Simms had a friend who let members of the public in to dump their waste.
The man confirmed that he found it very easy to dispose of his rubbish there and thought it a possible place for where Helen’s body might have been disposed of.
Two other people rang with possible hitherto unexplored burial sites - at Mosley Common and Bickerstaffe, West Lancs. The information was passed on to Merseyside Police’s cold case unit
The Crime and Investigation Channel (Sky 156, Virgin Media 275 or BT/TalkTalk 328) will be showing When Missing Turns to Murder at 9pm on March 4.
Helen’s mum Marie, who is trying to see a “no body, no parole” clause introduced into British law to prevent the release of unrepentant killers who fail to reveal their victims’ whereabouts from being released from prison, said she hoped the new programme would again bring extra lines of inquiry.
She said: “I am very grateful for the continued attention in Helen’s case from the printed and broadcast media.
“I am hoping it might bring new information to light.
“People might have withheld details up to now and this could be the trigger.”
Readers may also like to know that a series from several years ago called A Town and Country Murder, again featuring Helen’s case, will be repeated on Sky Pick (Sky 152, Virgin 123, Freeview 11 or Freesat 144) from June 6 at 10pm and runs for eight weeks.