Helen McCourt murder: Family fight to keep her killer Ian Simms behind bars

Tom Parmenter, news correspondent

The family of Helen McCourt, who was murdered in 1988, have told Sky News they are pursuing a judicial review to try and overturn a decision to release her killer from prison.

Helen's brother Michael confirmed to Sky News that they intend to fight the Parole Board's decision to release Ian Simms who was convicted of her murder.

Miss McCourt was a 22-year-old insurance clerk who was murdered in Billinge, Merseyside in February 1988.

Despite overwhelming DNA evidence against him, Simms, who is now 63, never accepted responsibility and refused to reveal where the young woman's body was left.

Her family have campaigned hard to change the law to ensure that murderers have to reveal the location of their victim before they can be considered for parole.

The family's fight for "Helen's Law" has cross-party support in Westminster but hasn't yet become law.

The St Helens North MP Conor McGinn, who has backed the family's case, told Sky News: "I fully support Marie McCourt and her family in challenging this decision in the courts.

"Releasing a convicted murderer who still refuses to give information about the location of his victim's remains is an affront to common decency, and will appal millions of people across the country.

"I'm working with the government to urgently progress Helen's Law, so that other families will hopefully not be faced with the same heartbreak and devastation as the McCourts have been this week."

On Wednesday, the Parole Board confirmed that they were satisfied that Simms could be released.

They said in a statement: "Whilst the Parole Board has every sympathy with Helen McCourt's family, if the board is satisfied that imprisonment is no longer necessary for the protection of the public, they are legally obliged to direct release."

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice confirmed that if a judicial review is allowed by a judge then Ian Simms' release would be suspended pending the outcome of the review.