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Helen McCourt murderer Ian Simms released from prison

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

A murderer who has refused to reveal the whereabouts of his victim's remains has been released from prison.

The mother of Helen McCourt, who disappeared in Merseyside in 1988, said she felt "numb" when she was told her daughter's killer had been freed.

Ian Simms, now 63, was convicted of killing the 22-year-old, whose body has never been found despite searches.

Simms has been released after Ms McCourt's mother Marie lost a legal bid on Tuesday to keep him behind bars.

Mrs McCourt has previously urged the government to deny parole to killers who do not disclose the location of their victims' bodies.

In an interview to be broadcast on BBC Breakfast, she says: "I didn't think a heart could break twice... but mine did."

Mrs McCourt tells the programme: "All I want - all I've ever wanted - is to have my child back.

"Whatever tiny bits or pieces there are, it's my daughter, and I want them back. And I can't have them now.''

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ian Simms, pictured in 1988, was found guilty of the 22-year-old's abduction and murder

Mrs McCourt had launched a legal challenge to keep Simms in prison ahead of a judicial review of the Parole Board's decision to free him.

But Lord Justice Dingemans and Mr Justice Fordham refused to postpone his release.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Marie McCourt has urged the government to introduce Helen's Law in memory of her daughter

Mrs McCourt has been campaigning for a change in the law following her daughter's death.

The Prisoners (Disclosure of Information about Victims) Bill - dubbed Helen's Law - has failed to be ratified before Parliament on numerous occasions - twice being delayed because of general elections.

Simms, who has always maintained his innocence, was given a life sentence with a minimum term of 16 years.

He was eligible to be considered for release in February 2004.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "The High Court's ruling meant we had to release Ian Simms from custody though he will be recalled if the court later decides to quash the Parole Board's decision.

"He will be on licence for life, subject to strict conditions and probation supervision when released, and he faces a return to prison if he fails to comply."

  • Hear more from Mrs McCourt on BBC Breakfast at 08:10 GMT on Thursday.

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