February 1988 – Helen, 23, disappears on her way home from work. Pub landlord Ian Simms charged with murder. Helen’s family begin the tortuous search for her remains… a search that goes on to this day.
February 1989 – Ian Simms found guilty of the murder of Helen McCourt. The case makes legal history as the third murder conviction without a body (since the second world war) – and the first murder conviction secured using DNA. Simms sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum tariff of 16 years. Simms refuses to speak to police about Helen’s location.
1989 to 2015 – Simms requests for parole are turned down
December 2015 With the support of her MP Conor McGinn Marie launches campaign for Helen’s Law – for parole to be denied to killers who refuse to disclose the location of their victims’ remains. Her petition on change.org attracts 389,000 signatures
2016 : The Parole Board recommends that Simms be moved to open prison.
February 2016 The day before meeting with the Minister for Victims Mike Penning Marie discovers that Simms has been moved to an open prison.
October 2016 Marie and other affected families are present in the House of Commons to hear Conor McGinn present a Ten Minute Bill on Helen’s Law (Unlawful Killing – recovery of remains). The first reading is passed unanimously.
February 3rd – 2017
Conor McGinn’s bill is going to to have its second reading at Parliament – we need every signature that we can get —