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Who were the victims of Muswell Hill Murderer Dennis Nilsen?

WARNING: This article contains information about violence and death

The unimaginable crimes of the Muswell Hill Murderer Dennis Nilsen will be told through ITV’s thrilling true-crime drama.

Necrophiliac Nilsen is played by Broadchurch and Doctor Who actor David Tennant in the new series.

Nilsen was convicted at the Old Bailey of six counts of murder and two of attempted murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment on November 4, 1983, with a recommendation that he serve a minimum of 25 years.

The sentence given to him in 1983 was later upgraded to a whole-life tariff and Scottish-born Nilsen died in May 2018 at the Full Sutton maximum security prison.

But who were his victims?

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When the police – who were led by Hertfordshire-based DCI Peter Jay – arrived at his Cranley Gardens residence after receiving reports of rotting flesh clogging the drains, Nilsen immediately confessed to 15 murders.

He could reportedly only name 12, however, and only six bodies were ever recovered.

DCI Jay’s son, Simon, spoke to HertsLive and said that his dad, who died two years ago from cancer, never thought justice was truly achieved as a result.

Nilsen would often refer to himself as Des to make him appear more approachable and friendly to his victims.

He would often allure young boys and men – who were often homosexuals or homeless and living off grid – in pubs and bars before brutally murdering them at his home.

Luke Neal, the series writer, chose not to show any of Nilsen’s awful crimes in the programme so as not to glorify or sensationalise them in anyway.

More stories about Des on ITV

Instead, it focuses on the police’s efforts to arrest and prosecute the notorious serial killer at a time when there was little technology available to investigators.

The families of the known victims were reportedly approached by Neal so that the stories were handed sensitively.

His known victims were Stephen Dean Holmes (aged 14), Martyn Duffey (aged 16), Kenneth Ockendon, William Sutherland, Malcolm Barlow, John Howlett, Stephen Sinclair and Graham Allen.

The murders – which took place between 1978 and 1983 – attracted huge media attention at the time, with the case often being referred to as a murder investigation in reverse since Nilsen confessed to the killings before any bodies had officially been unearthed.

Nilsen would often strangle or drown his victims before dismembering them and storing them in his house in cupboards or under floorboards. He would sometimes chuck bodies on fires, boil body pieces or flush smaller body parts down the toilet.

A search of his two addresses reportedly revealed more than 1,000 pieces of flesh and bone.

Nilsen would also masturbate over the bodies, although he always maintained he never penetrated the victims.

He was Britain’s most prolific serial killer of the time, and his true motives for killing the 12 young boys and men were never truly discovered.

Des airs on ITV at 9pm on September 14, 15 and 16.



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