A PRESTWICH Hospital patient has been jailed for life after being convicted of murdering a close friend.

Matthew Jones, 42, was sentenced today (Monday, February 1 2021) at Manchester Crown Court (Crown Square) to life with a minimum of 20 years in jail after being unanimously convicted by a jury of William Phelen’s murder in Harpurhey in March 2018.

The court heard how on the morning of Monday, March 19 2018, police forced entry into Mr Phelen’s home address on Kilnside Drive after reports of concern for his welfare.

Officers discovered the 39-year-old’s body and he was sadly pronounced dead immediately at the scene.

Due to the visible injuries on his body, police instantly launched a murder investigation into his death.

While moving his body from the scene, officers found a large kitchen knife under his body and a subsequent post-mortem later confirmed he died of multiple stab wounds.

Enquiries from detectives in GMP’s Major Incident Team uncovered several sightings of Mr Phelen, with an associate of his, Matthew Jones, who witnesses said was referred to as his brother ‘Will’.

Forensic examiners identified Jones’ fingerprints on the knife found with William’s body before investigators meticulously tracked Jones’ movements back to a secure unit at Prestwich Hospital.

Jones was eventually interviewed and later summonsed to appear in court in July 2019 accused of William’s murder.

He was convicted unanimously by the jury on Wednesday, January 27 2021 before today being sentenced to life with a minimum term of 20 years, having already served 554 days of that sentence on remand.

Detective Inspector Nicola McCulloch, of GMP’s Major Incident Team, said: “This has been a traumatic three years for William’s family who have not only had to suffer such an inconceivable loss, but also patiently wait for justice.

“They have shown such tremendous bravery and dignity throughout and I hope that today’s verdict offers them some closure on the worst time of their lives.

“This was a tragic case where a man murdered someone who was supposed to be his friend and left their loves ones with such insufferable consequences.

“Today’s verdict has ensured that Jones is punished for his shocking and fatal actions, while hopefully getting the treatment he needs.

“This investigation by its nature has had delays and setbacks, not to mention the COVID-19 pandemic, but our dedicated team have ensured throughout that no stone is left unturned and that justice is ultimately delivered for the family and loved ones of William, who will never be forgotten.”

Speaking after today’s verdict, William’s family paid tribute to him, saying: “William was the kindest, most-caring and loving person you could wish to meet.

“He would do anything for anyone – he would give you his last penny if he thought he could help you.

“Possessions meant nothing to him and family meant everything.

“He had a hard life living with his mental illness and struggled on a day-to-day basis but through it all he remained the Willy we all know and love.

“He would make us laugh no matter how hard life got and would always be there if you needed someone to talk to – a heart of gold!

“Our family will be forever tortured by the pain of what has happened to him – so cruel and sickening!

“But in the words William once said: ‘no matter how hard life gets you down, you just have to smile and be happy’.

“Just be happy – so with that in mind we said we will continue with our lives in the belief that one day we will meet again.

“We will forever hold him in our hearts.

“We finally have justice for William, and he can now rest in peace.”