TWO killers – the first prisoners to be considered by the Parole Board under Helen’s Law – have had their bids for freedom rejected.

Both David Harker and Glyn Razzell have been refused release this week after laws came into force earlier this year in a bid to make it harder for killers to get parole if they refuse to reveal where they hid their victim’s body.

Harker killed 32-year-old victim mother-of-four Julie Paterson.

He is serving a life sentence after admitting manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility after she went missing from her home in Darlington, County Durham, in 1998.

Parts of her dismembered body were found in a bin liner hidden in a garden hedge but the rest of her remains have never been recovered.

The Parole Board confirmed Harker’s case had been rejected on Tuesday but is yet to provide any further details on how the decision was reached.

Razzell is also serving a life sentence for the murder of his estranged 41-year-old wife, another mother-of-four Linda Razzell, who disappeared on her way to work at Swindon College in Wiltshire in March 2002.

The pair were embroiled in divorce proceedings when she went missing. His trial heard he faced a financial settlement that he was not prepared to accept.

Razzell denied her killing but was found guilty by a jury and no trace of her body has ever been found.

On Wednesday the Parole Board said Razzell, now in his 60s, could remain in open prison but could not be released.

A document setting out the decision said Razzell had “maintained his innocence” and described his behaviour at the time of the killing as “controlling”. In custody, his behaviour had been good, he had been allowed out on temporary release but had not taken part in any courses or programmes to address his offending.

Regarding his “non-disclosure of information concerning the whereabouts of the victim’s remains”, it said: “Continued withholding of such important information suggested a need to retain a perception of himself and maintain self-preservation through keeping control of the narrative. This and a marked lack of empathy for those involved in the case were seen to bear on the panel’s risk assessment.”

The Parole Board added: “After considering the circumstances of his offending, the progress made while in custody and the other evidence presented at the hearings, the panel was not satisfied that Mr Razzell was suitable for release. However, on assessing the benefits and risks, the panel recommended that he should remain in open conditions where any remaining key areas could be addressed.”

Both will be eligible for another parole decision in about two years’ time.

The Prisoners (Disclosure of Information About Victims) Act 2020, known as Helen’s Law, was enacted in January.

Named after Billinge murder victim Helen McCourt, who vanished on her way home from work in 1988, the law will also apply to paedophiles who refuse to identify those they abused.

Warrington Guardian: Murder victim Helen McCourt

Helen McCourt

Helen McCourt's murderer, Ian Simms, was released last year despite never saying where he hid her body.

It is believed her body is in Rixton Claypits in Warrington.

Her mother Marie McCourt spent five years calling for the legislation before it finally gained Royal Assent in November after a series of political and constitutional setbacks.

Under the law, killers could still be released if no longer deemed a risk to the public even if they refuse to disclose information. But the Parole Board will be legally required to consider whether they have co-operated with inquiries as part of their assessment.

Human rights laws prevent the UK introducing a “no body, no parole” rule, which the Government warned may have faced successful legal challenges in the courts.

It is hoped the form the legislation has taken will lead to more killers owning up to their crimes, providing answers for grieving families.