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Dennis Andrew Nilsen


Kindly Killer


23 November 1945
Kill Total: 15 +

Kill date:

December 1978 -
January 1983

Kill Place:





Civil servant


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Old Bailey




Alan Green









1961, Nilsen left school and enlisted in the British Army.  He served  for 11 years, earning a General Service Medal before being discharged, at his own request, in November 1972.


December 1972, he joined the Metropolitan Police, and was posted to Willesden, London  Nilsen served eight months as a police officer before resigning.


1974, Nilsen worked as a civil servant in a jobcentre in London's Kentish Town. 


November 1975, Nilsen moved into Melrose Avenue in Cricklewood, London.


October 1981, Nilsen moved to an attic flat at 23 Cranley Gardens, Muswell Hill, London.


The alcoholic homosexual could not come to grips with life in the closet and resorted to murder and necrophilia.


He would lure young homeless men to his London flat, render them unconscious with alcohol and strangle them to death

He would stash their bodies under the floor boards and in cupboards. Occasionally he would take one out, wash and dress it, and pretend to have a date. He would lay the corpse next to him in bed and masturbate. Then, return it to the floor boards. Like Jeffery Dahmer his American counterpart, he killed out of loneliness.. He kept an assortment of body parts around the house as company and sometimes even left them in plain view when he went out to work.


Nilsen killed 12 or 13 men over 4 years, and destroyed their bodies in a series of large bonfires in his garden. However, when he was forced to move to a new apartment  in 1981 with no garden he had to improvise new ways to dispose of "his friends."


1983 he was discovered when he tried to flush human remains down the toilet, and clogged the plumbing. The neighbours complained about the blocked drains, and caught him trying to clear them at midnight. After a plumber had been called, and discovered what he believed to be pieces of chicken in the drains, the police were called. When the Police searched his top floor apartment, they discovered body parts of 3 men, who Nilsen had dismembered using his army butchery skills.




9th February 1983 Nilsen arrested.


24th October 1983, The trial started . Nilsen was charged with six counts of murder and two charges of attempted murder. Nilsen pleaded “Not Guilty” to each one, claiming diminished responsibility due to mental illness.


Alan Green the prosecutor. claimed that Nilsen had killed in full awareness of what he was doing and should be found guilty of murder. His principal evidence was from Nilsen’s own lengthy statement to the police, while the defence relied on psychiatric analysis.

During the summing up, the judge instructed the jury that a mind can be evil without being abnormal, thereby dispensing with all of the psychiatric jargon.


Thursday 3rd November 1983. The jury retired to consider their verdict.


4th November 1883, At 4:25pm they delivered a verdict, Guilty on all counts.

The judge sentenced Dennis Andrew Nilsen to life in prison, and specified that he should not be eligible for parole for 25 years, he was aged 37.


Thursday 25 October, 2001, Dennis Nilsen had, while in Whitemoor top security prison, written his life story. Titled "The Drowning Man", he had sent it to a book publisher. The prison authority seized the manuscript and are refusing to return it to him.


Nilsen took his fight to be allowed the right to publish to the high court in London, he won the case. Mr Justice Elias said Nilsen, could seek a judicial review to challenge the decision not to return the manuscript to him so he could edit it. Nilsen has stated that all proceeds of the book will go to charity.


19 March, 2002, Dennis Nilsen lost the legal battle over his planned autobiography. The High Court said the Prison Service has the right to read - and possibly censor - the manuscript before his solicitors are allowed to return it to him so he can continue working on it. His barrister Flo Krause argued the home secretary and prison authorities had no powers to vet the manuscript, currently held by his solicitors, before it was handed to him.


Ms Krause said the authorities would be breaching Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. She argued it would be irrational and a "disproportionate" action breaching his right to respect for family life, home and correspondence. It would also breach Article 10, protecting freedom of expression, argued Ms Krause.

Rejecting the challenge, Mr Justice Crane ruled that the home secretary was "fully entitled to require that the manuscript be stopped and read". Ms Krause said Nilsen, now held at Full Sutton prison, near York, could have had the book published before now, but wanted to do further work on it. She insisted he was not being underhand in any way. Nilsen says the book, called "Nilsen: History of a Drowning Man", is a serious work about his life and imprisonment. The manuscript, which he started working on in the early 1990s, was taken out by Nilsen's then solicitor in 1996 whilst he was being held at Whitemoor prison. The prison authorities said it was taken without their knowledge and authority.

Nilsen, who was given legal aid, was refused permission to appeal. An anthology of poems and tapes of music he recorded in prison were also blocked.

During the judicial review Nilsen was held at Whitmore prison, he is currently held at HMP Full Sutton maximum security prison in Yorkshire.

See list of victims here >>


Nilsen is one of the prisoners on the Home Office list of prisoners Never to be released,

see list here >>



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