Nilsen, se­rial killer who slaugh­tered 16, dies in jail aged 72

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Paul Drury

SCOTS-BORN Den­nis Nilsen, one of the most pro­lific se­rial killers in British crim­i­nal his­tory, died last night in prison, aged 72.

The be­spec­ta­cled and out­wardly re­spectable civil ser­vant led a se­cret life be­tween 1978 and 1983, be­friend­ing lonely gay young men in Lon­don pubs and tak­ing them home to kill them.

He was found guilty of ‘only’ six mur­ders and two at­tempted mur­ders but it is be­lieved up to 16 young men died at his hands in a num­ber of grubby prop­er­ties he oc­cu­pied in North Lon­don.

In 2006, 23 years after his im­pris­on­ment, pros­e­cu­tors said they would not be tak­ing him to court to face an al­le­ga­tion of mur­der­ing a 14-year-old boy, be­lieved to have been his first vic­tim.

Fraser­burgh-born Nilsen was caught only be­cause a Dyno-Rod plumber called to a block­age in the drains at his house had dis­cov­ered lumps of hu­man flesh in a pipe.

By this stage Nilsen had been killing so many vic­tims that his house was stack­ing up with corpses, so he re­sorted to flush­ing them down the lava­tory.

The head of the fi­nal vic­tim, Stephen Sin­clair, had been boil­ing on Nilsen’s stove the night be­fore. Po­lice found two other heads in the house as well as plas­tic bags full of limbs, hid­den in a wardrobe.

Nilsen, who died at HMP Full Sut­ton in York­shire, was said to have had an un­happy child­hood in the north-east of Scot­land. His fa­ther was a drunk and his mother, Betty, suf­fered from de­pres­sion.

Nilsen’s fas­ci­na­tion with death is be­lieved to have started when he viewed the open cof­fin of his grandfather, who had largely raised him.

He served as an army cook with The Royal Fusiliers in Osnabruck, Ger­many, and later dur­ing the Aden Cri­sis in South Ye­men. There was also a spell with the Ar­gyll and Suther­land High­landers. In Aden, Nilsen was kid­napped by an Arab taxi driver, who beat him un­con­scious and stuffed him into the boot of his car. As the cab­bie was re­mov­ing him from the ve­hi­cle, Nilsen struck him with a jack-han­dle be­fore plac­ing him in the boot of his own ve­hi­cle.

It was dur­ing his time in the Mid­dle East that Nilsen saw a num­ber of bod­ies, which are said to have fu­elled his sex­ual fan­tasies when he re­turned to civil­ian life.

On his re­turn to the UK, Nilsen had a brief spell as a po­lice­man.

One of his later vic­tims, Stephen Dean Holmes, had the mis­for­tune to at­tract the psy­chopath when he was drink­ing one Fri­day night in a Lon­don pub.

After en­tic­ing the curly-haired Ir­ish teenager back to his house, Nilsen was ter­ri­fied the next morn­ing that his guest would leave. So he stran­gled him with a tie and drowned him in a bucket.

In a fore­taste of his be­hav­iour to­wards his vic­tims’ corpses, Nilsen slept be­side Holmes that night be­fore stuff­ing his body un­der the floor­boards. The smell be­came un­bear­able, so Nilsen burned the re­mains in his back gar­den, be­fore pound­ing the ashes to dust and rak­ing them into the soil.

No­body seems to have missed the young Ir­ish­man, which allowed Nilsen to con­tinue with his grisly killing spree.

Chil­dren in the play­ground next door had no rea­son to sus­pect the man who would light reg­u­lar bon­fires in his back gar­den.

He stran­gled Cana­dian tourist Ken­neth Ock­endon with the cord of the head­phones his vic­tim was wear­ing. Nilsen had sex with the corpse and kept it hid­den un­der the floor­boards for months.

A hushed court would later hear Nilsen would oc­ca­sion­ally bring out the body and prop it up in a chair so the pair could watch TV ‘to­gether’.

His de­prav­ity knew no bounds. Nilsen met Mar­tyn Duf­fey when the 16-year-old home­less boy suf­fered an epilep­tic fit. Nilsen called an am­bu­lance but when the teenager went round to his house the next day to say thanks, Nilsen killed him and sex­u­ally as­saulted his corpse. He hid the body in a wardrobe for a fort­night, be­fore plac­ing it be­neath the floor­boards.

A crim­i­nol­o­gist later said lone­li­ness was the driver be­hind Nilsen’s atroc­i­ties. Nilsen, he said, killed for com­pany.

His whole-life term at the Old Bai­ley meant that he would never be re­leased.

‘Hid body in wardrobe for a fort­night’

CAL­LOUS KILLER: Den­nis Nilsen

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