Convicted killer Ian Simms is due to be released from prison after the Parole Board said he "met the test for release", despite never telling police where he hid the body of victim Helen McCourt.

Simms, 63, was deemed suitable for release due to factors including the "considerable change in his behaviour".

He will be released subject to a series of conditions, including to reside at a designated address, to be "of good behaviour" and to report for supervision appointments.

Simms - who ran the George and Dragon in Billinge, near Wigan - will also have to wear a tagging device to monitor his whereabouts, observe a curfew and avoid any contact with the family of his victim.

The pub landlord, who was convicted by a jury on overwhelming DNA evidence of the 22-year-old's abduction and murder, has been serving his life sentence at HMP Garth in Leyland, Lancashire.

Ian Simms, who abducted and killed Helen McCourt in 1988
 

He has always maintained his innocence over the death of Ms McCourt, an insurance clerk who vanished on her way home from work in Liverpool in February 1988.

Simms was convicted the following year.

Outlining its verdict, the Parole Board said: "Taking into account the denial, the refusal to reveal where the victim's body is, all the risk factors, the progress that Mr Simms has made, the considerable change in his behaviour, the fact that he has not been involved in any violence or substance misuse for many years, his protective factors, the recommendations from all the professionals and all the evidence presented at the hearing, the panel was satisfied that Mr Simms met the test for release."

Marie McCourt, the mother of murdered Helen McCourt, says she is in a state of shock at the decision

During a Parole Board hearing, Ms McCourt's family called on Simms to end the "torture" and reveal once and for all where he hid her body.

Speaking at the family home in Billinge, Merseyside, Helen's mother, Marie was shaking with anger at the news. She received a call this morning from her victim liaison officer at Merseyside Probation Service, and was still trying to process the news.

She said: "I'm just in a state of shock to be honest. I got a call this morning and was told he was being released. I've just had some forms come through, I think that's on what grounds the Parole Board has granted him release on licence, but I don't know all the conditions.

Marie McCourt and Peter Faulding, head of Specialist Group International, searching woodland in Hollins Green for her daughter's body

"I don't' know some people are telling me little bits and this is the wrong way to do it.

"I was just in shock. Well I'm still trying to deal with it. I'm horrified by it, I'm horrified by it. This man is a danger, you know."

Mrs McCourt, who has campaigned relentlessly to keep Simms behind bars until he helps lead police to her daughter's body, added: "I've been fighting for this all these years and the last four years it's been going through, Helen's Law.

Helen McCourt who was murdered by pub landlord Ian Simms 25 years ago

"If Helen's Law had been on the statute books right now those judges would have to really make sure in their decision to release him that he would be safe. They would have to go into that, they would have to obey that law and it hasn't happened."

She added she did not know when or where Simms would be released and had "very little to go on".

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