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  1. ITV Report

MP calls for new 'Helen's Law' for murderers

Labour MP Conor McGinn, who has put forward the Ten Minute Bill. Credit: PA

MPs will debate whether killers should be denied parole if they refuse to reveal where their victims' bodies are on Tuesday.

Labour's Conor McGinn will urge MPs to change the law to deny killers the chance of freedom if they withhold such information, dropping families "into hell".

His Unlawful Killing (Recovery of Remains) Bill will be put to MPs under a Ten Minute Rule motion, meaning it will be unlikely to proceed without government support.

But it comes after the campaign for a "Helen's Law" reached more than 343,000 signatures on change.org, a sign of strong public support.

It is named after murder victim Helen McCourt, who was kidnapped and killed by Ian Simms in 1988.

Helen McCourt, who was abducted and murdered in 1988. Credit: PA

Simms was convicted by overwhelming DNA evidence, but he never admitted what he did or disclosed where the 22-year-old's remains were.

Helen's mother, Marie McCourt, has been campaigning since for a change in parole terms.

Simms' application for release from prison has been rejected but the Parole Board recommended in February that he be moved to an open prison.

Ahead of the Commons debate, Ms McCourt said: "It's been 28 years since I lost my daughter but the pain will never ease until I can give her the dignity of a funeral.

"To take a life is bad enough. But to then hide the body and refuse to disclose where it can be found is an act of pure evil.

"They are literally picking up the family of the victim and dropping them into hell. With no funeral or grave they will never have closure."

We are not asking for killers to be locked up forever.

All we are asking is that they co-operate with the police and reveal where their victims have been hidden.

If killers know they will never be released until they do this, surely they be more likely to co-operate and end this torment.

– Marie McCourt

Ms McCourt will be joined in the Commons public gallery by at least five other families affected, including 48-year-old Sam Gillingham, whose search for the body of her murdered mother was the subject of a recent documentary.

Also in the public gallery will be the families of victims Paul Morson, Jonathan Dolton, Jane Harrison, and Michelle Gunshon.

Mr McGinn said: "This proposed law has been already been introduced in some parts of Australia and there is no reason why it could not operate successfully here.

"No one should be forced to endure the anguish that Marie McCourt and her family and the relatives of other victims have suffered.

"They have already felt the pain of having a loved one murdered. To add to their grief, they have been denied the chance to hold a proper funeral.

"Helen's Law will hopefully go some way towards helping put right the terrible wrong that has been inflicted on them."