Under a new law, killers who refuse to reveal the location of their victims’ bodies could be jailed indefinitely.
Justice Secretary David Gauke has said his team are preparing legislation to introduce the bill, dubbed ‘Helen’s Law’ after Helen McCourt, whose body was never found after her murder in 1988.
The new law would give more power to parole boards to refuse release applications from ‘no body’ killers – such as Ian Simms, who was convicted for the murder of Helen McCourt without the presence of a body, and the Moors murderer Ian Brady, who did not disclose the location of a number of his victims.
Helen’s mother, Marie McCourt, launched her campaign for the law in 2015, after it was revealed Ian Simms would be moved to an open prison. She hopes the law will be passed before his release.
Marie said, via the Mirror:
This is a huge step forward for the campaign which has been supported by so many people.
This is not just for Helen but for every single missing murder victim out there and their families. The tide is finally turning towards supporting victims rather than the rights of criminals.
Seeing a new law unveiled in Helen’s name will be a very proud, poignant moment. Her death, and all this pain, would count for something and make a difference.
Earlier this year, Ian Simms was allowed to spend a few days away from HMP Leyhill open prison, which suggests he could be close to release.
This legislation may be introduced in time to keep Simms in prison and prompt him to reveal where Helen can be found.
We live in hope. Losing a child is the most painful thing a parent can endure. But knowing your loved one is out there, somewhere, alone, is like an open wound that never heals.
You can watch Marie talking about Helen’s Law on Good Morning Britain here:
Under the current rules, there are only a number of guidelines for parole boards to consider when dealing with ‘no body’ killers. The new law however, would change that.
Now, they will be bound by law to consider the terrible toll that crimes like these take on innocent families.
The Ministry of Justice says it will share further details of the proposals once it has considered feedback from Marie McCourt and her MP Conor McGinn after a meeting with the Justice Secretary on Wednesday (May 15).
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said:
Not knowing the whereabouts of a loved one causes tremendous additional pain, and we have immense sympathy with Helen McCourt’s family.
The Justice Secretary recently held a positive meeting with Marie McCourt and her MP, and we look forward to working with them on this important issue.
Simms has never revealed the location of Helen McCourt, who was 22 when she died. He has also maintained his innocence, despite DNA evidence against him.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.