A pub landlord who has never revealed where he buried his murder victim is set to be released.
Helen McCourt was murdered in 1988 after disappearing as she made her way home from work in Liverpool.
Ian Simms, who ran the George and Dragon in Billinge, near Wigan was convicted the following year based on DNA evidence, and has been serving his life sentence at HMP Garth in Leyland, Lancashire.
He has always maintained his innocence and the body of Ms McCourt, a 22 – year-old insurance clerk, has never been found.
The Parole Board said on Thursday that Simms has “met the test for release”, which would be subject to a series of conditions.
These include residing at a designated address, to be “of good behavior” and to report for supervision appointments.
The 63 – year-old will also have to wear a tagging device to monitor his whereabouts, observe a curfew and avoid any contact with Ms McCourt’s family.
The Parole Board said it “carefully considered” Simms’ failure to disclose the location of Mrs McCourt’s body and concluded there is “no prospect of Simms ever disclosing the whereabouts of his victim even if he were kept in prison until he died “.
It said this refusal – which it concluded demonstrated a lack of empathy – continues to cause distress to Ms McCourt’s family.
However, it said denial was not a “necessarily determining factor” and also considered evidence from two psychologists who recommended release.
His case was heard on 8 November, during which Ms McCourt’s family called on Simms to end the “torture” and reveal once and for all where he hid her body.
Ms McCourt’s mother Marie, who attended the hearing, has campaigned for a law denying parole to killers who refuse to reveal the location of their victims’ bodies.
The legislation – Helen’s Law – made it through the early stages of ratification before parliament was dissolved for t he election. This means the process has to begin again after the election.
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