Hope for families of ‘no body’ murder victims bolstered by new Helen’s Law

The families of murder victims whose bodies have never been found were given hope today as Helen’s Law came into force.

Marie McCourt, 77, whose daughter Helen was killed in 1988, campaigned tirelessly for the new legislation with the Mirror’s support.

The Bill, which makes it a legal requirement for parole judges to consider “non-disclosure” by ­prisoners, is live after years of delays.

Last week Parole Board chief Martin Jones outraged Marie’s supporters by warning that “no body” killers could still walk free under the law.

But Justice Secretary Robert Buckland MP said they “should expect” to face longer in jail, adding: “More families should get the answers and closure they deserve.”

Stuart Campbell, 62, who murdered his niece Danielle Jones, 15, is expected to be the first “no body” killer to apply for parole under Helen’s Law when his 20-year minimum term expires in November.

Danielle’s mum Linda Jones, 60, believes those who hear his case should respect the wishes of MPs and Lords who voted for the law.

She said: “The Parole Board should act on Helen’s Law after all the effort that has gone into it. To us it’s a very black-and-white situation: ‘Tell us where she is or stay where you are’.”

Last year Linda and husband Tony, 60, sent Campbell a letter promising not to block parole if he told them where their daughter is.

She said: “We want to have Danielle back so we can put her in a safe place. It is the thing we want most in the world but the price is the thing we dread the most – him leaving prison.

“That’s a very hard price but I want my daughter back so there is no other option.”

Matalan worker Linda and dry cleaner Tony still live in East Tilbury, Essex, where Danielle was last seen alive on June 18, 2001.

Linda said: “It’s the not knowing that torments.”

The Jones’ suffering is one example of the agony being faced by families.

Last year Marie, of Billinge, Wigan,had to endure Helen’s killer Ian Simms being freed on parole before the law in her daughter’s name could come into force.

Marie said: “These murderers pose a risk to the public until they have shown remorse.”

Marie McCourt told Loose Women she believed people who don’t reveal where the bodies of their victims are should stay in prison

Her Labour MP Conor McGinn said: “The will of Parliament on Helen’s Law is clear [and] so is the duty of the Parole Board.”

The Prisoners (Disclosure Of Information About Victims) Bill also applies to paedophiles who refuse to identify their victims.