David Gauke, the Secretary of State for Justice, has said that the Government intends to introduce what is known as ‘Helen’s Law’, where a prison sentence can be lengthened when a murderer refuses to disclose the whereabouts of a body. The law is named after Helen McCourt who was murdered in 1988 and whose body has never been found.
Gauke said in a statement:
“It is a particular cruelty to deny grieving families the opportunity to lay their murdered loved one to rest, and I have immense sympathy with Marie McCourt and others in her situation.
‘Helen’s Law’ will mean that the Parole Board must consider this cruelty when reviewing an offender’s suitability for release – which could see them facing longer behind bars. The profound grief inflicted on families and friends of the murdered is incalculable. Those responsible should know that if they choose to compound this further through their behaviour, they will be held accountable.”
Helen’s mother, Marie McCourt, said:
“I am obviously very pleased that the Justice Secretary has now confirmed that the Government is proceeding with Helen’s Law and grateful that he agreed to meet with myself and my MP Conor McGinn to discuss the aims and needs of my campaign.
This legislation will mean that myself and many other families will, hopefully, not have to endure the torture of not knowing where their loved ones remains can be recovered from. I would like to thank my MP Conor McGinn for all his work in bringing this law forward, the Justice Secretary, and everyone who has supported me in my endeavours of getting justice for the victims and their families.”