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Helen McCourt: Release of killer Ian Simms to be reviewed

Helen McCourt Image copyright PA
Image caption Helen McCourt was murdered by Ian Simms in Billinge, Merseyside, in 1988

A decision to sanction the release of the man who murdered Helen McCourt is to be reviewed by the parole board.

Ian Simms, 63, was jailed in 1989 for killing Ms McCourt from Merseyside who disappeared in February 1988, aged 22.

He was considered for parole on 8 November and officials said he "met the test for release" despite never revealing where her body is.

The Parole Board received a request from the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland to reconsider the decision.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Ian Simms, seen here in 1988, was jailed for murder in 1989

Simms, who was originally sentenced to serve a minimum of 16 years, killed Ms McCourt as she walked home from work.

He owned a pub close to her Billinge home and was convicted of murder after blood and an earring - identical to one belonging to her - were found in his car boot.

He has never revealed the location of her remains, claiming he is innocent.

The review will be conducted by a judicial member of the board who has not been involved in the case before.

The process, which includes consulting Simms, is expected to take about three weeks and he will not be released during that time.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Marie McCourt has campaigned for new legislation that would deny parole to killers who do not disclose the location of victims' remains

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "After carefully considering the details of this case, we believe there is an arguable case to meet the threshold for reconsideration.

"An application has now been made to the independent parole board to have the case reconsidered.

"It is now for the parole board to decide whether the threshold is met for the decision to be formally reconsidered."

'Too dangerous'

Ms McCourt's mother Marie said she was "very grateful" to Mr Buckland for writing to the Parole Board.

She said she hoped the board would reconsider, adding Simms was "too dangerous" to be released.

She has campaigned for Helen's Law - legislation that would deny parole to killers who do not disclose the location of victims' remains.

The bill recently ran out of time, when the general election was called.

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