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A source close to Phillip Simmons said the May Street murderer is ‘doing OK’ in HMP Full Sutton

Notorious Hull double murderer Phillip Simmons has “converted his religion and become a vegan” in a bid to start a new life.

A woman close to the May Street murderer said Simmons has also given up smoking and “does nothing but read books” as he serves a 36-year sentence in HMP Full Sutton for murder.

Simmons was jailed in February last year after he admitted killing his housemate Daniel Hatfield, 52, and Mr Hatfield’s friend, Matthew Higgins, 49, in his back yard at 7 May Street, west Hull, in April 2016.

Phillip Simmons was jailed for life for the murders of Matthew Higgins and Daniel Hatfield.

Phillip Simmons was jailed for life for the murders of Matthew Higgins and Daniel Hatfield.

Since his imprisonment, the woman said he had converted from Catholicism to “a form of Islam”.

“He seems to be doing OK in there,” she said.

“He has converted to a different religion and is trying to come to peace with himself for what he did.

“He has stopped smoking and just seems to read books these days.”

Simmons is currently being held in HMP Full Sutton near Pocklington.

The maximum security prison houses some of the country’s most dangerous and notorious criminals .

They include Scottish serial killer Dennis Nilsen, who murdered at least 12 young men between 1978 and 1983 in London, and English gangster Curtis Warren.

Speaking about Simmons, the woman said: “He has gone vegan as well, and is really trying to turn everything around.

“He seems to be doing OK though overall – he is not ready for visits yet he told me, but he calls a lot.

“I think it would be too difficult for him to see his family. He got 36 years for the murders, so he is in for a long one.”

Simmons admitted two charges of murder and one of robbery at Hull Crown Court in February 2017.

Judge Jeremy Richardson QC told Simmons at his sentencing last year: “The circumstances are intensely horrific and demonstrate you are an extremely dangerous and violent man.

“I am of the view that it is almost inevitable that you will never be released from prison. I cannot foresee a time when it will ever be safe to release you.”

The woman said the Hull murderer was trying to turn his life around, and had taken a number of measures in a bid to do so.

Hull Daily Mail

In a quiet cul-de-sac off Beverley Road, a neighbour peered over her garden wall into the back yard of 7 May Street.

She could hardly believe her eyes, but there appeared to be a foot sticking out from under a duvet.

The woman called police, reporting what appeared to be a body in next door’s yard.

She did not know there were in fact two, and she had stumbled upon the scene of East Yorkshire’s first double murder for nearly 20 years.

He had long since fled, but Phillip Simmons, 38, one of several residents at the privately rented property, had turned 7 May Street into a house of horrors.

The burly and intimidating 16.5st thug had murdered housemate Daniel Hatfield, 52, who weighed just 6st, and his friend Matthew Higgins, 49, who was only paying him a visit.

It may never be known who was killed first, but Simmons told police it was Mr Hatfield, which would mean Mr Higgins was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

For after attacking his first victim in the kitchen, and continuing the assault with a variety of weapons after dragging him into the yard, Simmons walked back into the house and found the second man standing in the kitchen.

He took a “calculated”, instant decision to kill him too, later telling police: “I thought that I had no choice, I’m gonna have to do him as well.

The two murders were almost identical, involving beating and the use of multiple weapons.

It was a grim task that befell the officer who had to remove the duvet.

But in an exclusive interview with the Mail, the officer who led the inquiry revealed that other potential victims crossed Simmons’s path, and may have been lucky to escape with their lives.

After the second killing, Simmons walked back into the house and found someone else in the kitchen, a woman who also lived there.

The killer decided to leave.

Detective Chief Inspector Tony Cockerill said she may be “simply lucky to be alive, considering the mindset of Simmons at the time, having just murdered two men who were no threat to him, one after the other.

“He’d reached a tipping point in his life where he’d committed these crimes.

“He had nothing to lose and could see where this would end up, and that was prison for the rest of his life.”

Simmons was on the run, but he was already a suspect and evidence was being quickly gathered against him.

He dumped his trainers in the bin at a “local address”, but these were recovered.

As well as retrieving forensic evidence from the scene and making inquiries locally, police continued filling in any gaps in their knowledge even after Simmons was arrested.

Det Chief Insp Cockerill said: “We spent some considerable time creating a timeline between the murders and his arrest to help us understand what had happened and where our evidential opportunities lay.”

It is thought Simmons spent just two days at large before he was arrested after a robbery at a Betfred bookmakers in Preston Road, east Hull, from which he hoped to fund his flight from justice.

Simmons, whom police describe as “a physically imposing, large man”, threatened the manager with a broken bottle, and demanded money.

Police say the manager was wise not to have challenged Simmons, handing over the £2,800 he took.

Det Chief Insp Cockerill said: “It was that decision and good fortune that he was not seriously injured, or worse, because Simmons knew what he’d done, he knew he was wanted, he had nothing to lose, and he’s an extremely violent and volatile individual.

“Simmons is capable of remarkable levels of violence.”

The officer said it is one of the worst cases he has seen.

“I’ve seen worse injuries,” he said, “but to have one after the other in such a premeditated way, which for me is an illustration and indication of where he was psychologically at the time, where he’s thinking that’s a rational decision, where a man has used horrendous levels of violence in two murders, is shocking.”

Det Chief Insp Cockerill praised relatives of the victims for the dignity they showed in court yesterday, when Simmons admitted two counts of murder and robbery.

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Judge Jeremy Richardson QC told the killer: “Phillip Simmons, you have pleaded guilty to two exceptionally serious crimes, and the crime of robbery.

“In respect of the murder convictions, there is but one sentence I shall be passing in due course, and that is a life sentence incumbent on each of the two counts.

“The only issue for determination is the minimum term that should be served in this case.

“There is an argument that I should impose a whole life term, but cogent arguments have been advanced as to why I should not take that course.

“I make it clear at this juncture I have not made any decision.

“At present I keep an open mind, but it is only right that I should indicate that I take, of course, an exceptionally serious view of such an exceptionally serious case.”

Hull Daily Mail

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