Simms’ parole hearing added to agony

Helen McCourt _ murdered 1988.
Helen McCourt _ murdered 1988.

Killer Ian Simms’s latest parole hearing was unexpectedly delayed, prompting Helen McCourt’s mum to write to justice chiefs demanding answers.

Marie McCourt told last week she had been put through “two weeks of unnecessary stress” after she was left waiting for the outcome of the hearing only to find out it had never happened.

She has since been told that Simms will only now be going before a panel at Garth Prison, Leyland, next March at the earliest.

But it does not appear that the delay had anything to do with the dramatic developments at St Aidan’s Church, Billinge, today.

Mrs McCourt had voiced agner over the secrecy surrounding Simms’s parole hearing. S

he gave a victim impact statement at Garth last month, after which Simms was then supposed to offer his case for being downgraded to a lower category of jail.

But rules prevent the authorities from telling her the reasons why it was shelved.

Mrs McCourt insists that Simms, who still protests his innocence, should not be released unless he first reveals where Helen is.

But she is increasingly frustrated with the “offender-favouring” parole system. She has now written a letter, complaining about the latest events and demanding why she can’t be told more to a number of senior figures.

This includes Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, Michael Spurr of the National Offender Management Service, Victims Commissioner Baroness Newlove and the chairman and chief executive of the Parole Board.

She said: “I gave evidence at Garth on September 23 and was told I would be informed of the decision in a fortnight.

“Simms’s side was due to be presented afterwards but I wasn’t allowed in on it. But then on Monday I got a call saying the hearing never went ahead and was cancelled until further notice. March 1 is the earliest possible next date. When I asked why they said they couldn’t tell me.

“I am really angry. I have been made to stress out for a fortnight completely unnecessarily. Surely if the hearing did not go ahead they could have told me immediately. But no-one had the common decency.

And no-one is allowed to tell me why either.

“What possible harm could it do for me to know? Was he ill, has he attempted suicide, are there extra reports to prepare?”

Mrs McCourt was told she would not have to resubmit her evidence at the reconvened hearing but she says she is determined to do so because she wants her side “as fresh in the board’s memory as Simms’s.”

Several campaigning journalists who specialise in miscarriages of justice have looked into the Simms case and then abandoned it.