Mother of Helen McCourt ‘elated’ after decision to review killer’s release | Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has asked the parole board to reconsider granting parole to pub landlord Ian Simms.

Mother of Helen McCourt ‘elated’ after decision to review killer’s release

Mother of Helen McCourt ‘elated’ after decision to review killer’s release

Mother of Helen McCourt ‘elated’ after decision to review killer’s release

Mother of Helen McCourt ‘elated’ after decision to review killer’s release

Mother of Helen McCourt ‘elated’ after decision to review killer’s release

Mother of Helen McCourt ‘elated’ after decision to review killer’s release
Mother of Helen McCourt ‘elated’ after decision to review killer’s release
  • By: metro.co.uk
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The mother of murdered woman Helen McCourt has said she is ‘elated’ after learning that the decision to release her killer from jail is being reviewed.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has asked the parole board to reconsider granting parole to pub landlord Ian Simms who murdered 22-year-old Helen McCourt in 1988.

After learning of the Parole Board’s earlier decision to free Ian Simms from prison, Marie McCourt called on the justice secretary to step in.

Last month after a hearing, the board decided Simms had met the test for release three decades after the 22-year-old went missing, despite never telling police where he hid her body.

After the decision, there was a three-week period in which Mr Buckland or Simms himself could appeal against the ruling, before the final choice whether to release was made by the Prison Service.

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Today it was announced that Mr Buckland had asked the Parole Board to review the decision.

Mrs McCourt said: ‘I’m quite elated with the news. This is what I was hoping would happen.

‘I hope now that the Parole Board start looking into it again that they would agree he should stay in jail.’

But she says the decision to release Ian Simms should never have been made as she still thinks he is dangerous.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘After carefully considering the details of this case, we believe there is an arguable case to meet the threshold for reconsideration.

‘An application has now been made to the independent Parole Board to have the case reconsidered.

‘It is now for the Parole Board to decide whether the threshold is met for the decision to be formally reconsidered.’

The original decision came after Mrs McCourt’s campaign to keep killers behind bars until they lead police to the victim’s body, dubbed Helen’s Law, failed to be ratified before Parliament was dissolved.

Mrs McCourt previously said she was ‘in shock’ at the decision to consider Simms’ release.

The summary of the Parole Board’s original ruling said Simms was suitable because of a ‘considerable change in his behaviour’.

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The decision to release him was subject to a number of conditions including residing at a designated address, having to wear a tagging device to monitor his whereabouts, observe a curfew and avoid any contact with the family of his victim.

Pub landlord Simms, who was convicted by a jury on overwhelming DNA evidence of Ms McCourt’s abduction and murder, is serving his life sentence at HMP Garth in Leyland, Lancashire.

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 1988.

Simms was convicted of her murder the following year, having been told he would serve at least 16 years and one day behind bars.

He was eligible to be considered for release in February 2004.

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Bill Cosby loses appeal to overturn sex assault conviction

Bill Cosby loses appeal to overturn sex assault conviction

Bill Cosby has lost his appeal to overturn a sexual assault conviction, after a Pennsylvania court rejected claims he had been denied a fair trial.

Lawyers for the shamed TV star argued the trial judge had improperly allowed five additional accusers to testify against him.

Dozens of women have accused the 82-year-old, who shot to fame with family comedy The Cosby Show, of sexual assault over several decades.

In April 2018, he became the first celebrity to be tried and convicted in the "#MeToo" era when a jury found him guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004.

He was found guilty on three counts of aggravated indecent assault and sentenced to serve three to 10 years in prison.

But his lawyers appealed the conviction earlier this year, arguing that the lower court judge had allowed testimony and evidence which should have been excluded.

They said the accounts from five new women were "strikingly dissimilar" to that of original accuser Ms Constand, thus making their testimony unfair and prejudicial.

However, the judge in Cosby's trial, Steven O'Neill, said the five women’s evidence had shown "chilling similarities" that pointed to a "signature" crime.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled on Tuesday that Mr O'Neill was right to allow their testimony, even if some of those "prior bad acts" took place 22 years before Cosby's assault of Constand.

Cosby has insisted that any sexual encounters he had were consensual.

He and his lawyers have accused many of the complainants of being gold-diggers seeking money or fame. 

He told a news outlet in November he expected to serve the maximum 10-year sentence if he lost the appeal, because he would never express remorse to the parole board.

A representative for Cosby did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

 

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Oxford University student ‘said “this is really awkward”’ after alleged rape

Oxford University student ‘said “this is really awkward”’ after alleged rape

An Oxford University medical student said ‘Oh, no, this is really awkward’, moments after he raped a female student following a college night out, a jury heard today.

Oxford Crown Court saw a video interview with the woman who accused fellow student Niall McPaul of raping her.

The young victim told the jury she had woken up to find McPaul on top of her, raping her, while she stood behind a screen, out of sight of the accused.

She described herself as ‘eight or nine’ out of 10 in terms of drunkenness, having had a bottle and a half of wine, and told police that McPaul had sat on the side of her bed following the incident and said: ‘This is one of those unfortunate things that happens.’

The jury was told by the prosecutor that McPaul had later texted the woman to describe his behaviour as ‘inexcusable really’ and that she had told him they were not going to have sex.

Opening the case, prosecutor Matthew Walsh said: ‘(McPaul) was on top of her and she came-to in a confused state.

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‘In fact as you will hear in this case, there is no argument between the prosecution and defence about one thing – that the defendant had penetrated her vagina with his penis.

‘That had taken place, he accepts that.’

He continued: ‘What is at issue is firstly whether she was consenting to that, agreeing to it taking place, and if she was not consenting, whether the defendant reasonably believed that she was.’

McPaul, who was 24 at the time of the incident, had met the victim through friends at a party in 2016, five months before the alleged rape.

She told officers that she again met the accused at another party in 2017, when they kissed and exchanged messages after McPaul had left to go home, the court heard.

She said: ‘It was just something stupid that I did. I was not going to do it again. My boyfriend was aware of it.

‘He is a very easy going person, he was not particularly angry or upset but he was just like: “do not do that again”.’

On the morning of the alleged rape later in 2017, the victim had allowed McPaul to stay over, after a party, and they shared a bed and cuddled.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: ‘It was late and probably quite cold outside and he lives a long way away. I had no reason not to let him in.

‘Although on some level I must have wanted that [sex with him], I do not think I would have, even when I have been very drunk I do not think I would have.

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‘I went to sleep saying, “I am not going to have sex with you”.’

Defence lawyer Eleanor Laws, representing McPaul, suggested the victim had engaged in consensual kissing and sexual touching while they were in bed together, before she had gone to sleep and after she had woken up.

The lawyer asked: ‘Do you remember saying that what went on between you and McPaul in the morning, from you waking up with him inside you, was in fact pleasurable?’

The complainant answered: ‘For a brief moment, before I realised what was going on.’

In her police interview, the complainant said she had made a public Facebook post following the incident in which she wrote: ‘Because of recent circumstances he [her boyfriend] would be disappointed in me.’

McPaul, now aged 27 and living in Oxford, denies one count of rape.

The trial continues.

Got a story for Metro.co.uk?

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk. For more stories like this, check our news page.

Manish Shah trial: London GP 'used celebs' cases as excuse to grope women'

Manish Shah trial: London GP 'used celebs' cases as excuse to grope women'

A popular GP accused of groping women and girls at his east London surgery used the cases of Hollywood star Angelina Jolie and reality TV star Jade Goody to trick them into un-necessary intimate examinations, the Old Bailey heard today. 

Dr Manish Shah, 50, allegedly groped 25 women at his Romford surgery between 2009 and 2013.

He is accused of using the case of tragic reality TV star Ms Goody to persuade one patient to have a smear test, and citing Ms Jolie’s cancer-preventing double mastectomy  to examine another woman’s breasts when she had a painful shoulder. 

“He brought up the news story of Angelina Jolie’s preventative mastectomy,” said prosecutor Kate Bex QC, adding Shah then “asked her if she would like him to examine her breasts. 

“He was obviously aware it was contrary to NHS guidelines, and told the woman he was offering a service available in other countries and not in the UK. He said he had recently seen two patients with breast cancer who were even younger than her.

"That was deliberate and intended to reassure her and reduce the risk she would question what he is doing, and it worked.”

Jurors heard Shah, who specialised in family planning and gynaecology, had already been convicted at a trial last year of sexually assaulting 17 female patients between 2009 and 2013. He is now on trial again, accused of sexually assaulting eight more patients, including one aged just 11, over the same five-year period. 

Ms Bex said Shah’s examinations were for “sexual gratification” and he persuaded one woman to strip naked as he examined her.

Shah, suspended in 2013 when complaints came to light and police investigated, denies 13 charges of sexual assault and 21 of assault by penetration.

The trial continues. 

 

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