Unemotional killer recalls the excitement and power

Dennis Nilsen, the first British serial killer to be interviewed for television, appeared to have changed little in the nine years since the Old Bailey heard how he dismembered the bodies of his young victims.

The short segments, totalling four minutes, from the interviews at Albany prison last September, showed a slightly heavier man but with the same distinctive heavy rimmed glasses and wave of hair across his forehead.

Nilsen is seen leaning back against a wall and barely moves. He is wearing an open, blue- striped prison shirt over a white T-shirt, with a loose black necklace; cigarettes and ashtray at his side. He answers questions from Paul Britton, a clinical psychologist, with a firm, unemotional voice, in a slight Scottish accent.

Although convicted of six murders, Nilsen confessed to 15 or 16. The interview opens with him saying: 'It was 12, not 15 or 16. When I was in the back of the police car after my arrest they asked me how many there were and I did not really know. I gave them a figure because I was co-operating with the police . . . three of the victims were invented to complement the continuity of the evidence to keep the police happy.'

Nilsen then talks about his victims. 'In the end, it was when there were, say, two or three bodies under the floorboards. Come summer it got hot and I knew there would be a smell problem. . . . I thought what would cause the smell more than anything else? I came to the conclusion that it was the innards. The soft parts of the body, the organs. On a weekend I would pull up the floorboards. I found it totally unpleasant. I would get blind drunk so that I could face it and start dissecting them on the kitchen floor. I would then go and be sick outside in the garden.'

Nilsen went on: 'They don't leave a mess. When people in these death situations where you have a knife involved, there isn't a lot of blood. In a dead body there is no splashing . . . The blood congeals and becomes part of the flesh. It is like a butcher's shop. There is little or no blood. I got these plastic bags and slit one so it formed a kind of sheet. I hauled the body up from the floorboards and . . . and cut it up.'

Nilsen talks about his youthful habit of making himself look like a corpse. 'It was to do with making myself look as different from me as it was possible to imagine to be - so that I could really be convincing as somebody else.'

Mr Britton asks about 'the first young man?' Nilsen replies: 'He is now me. He is now my body in fantasies. I carry him in and make him appear even better. I had some Y-fronts in cellophane and a vest. I put it on him because it enhanced his appearance.

'The most exciting part . . . was when I lifted the body and carried it. It was an expression of my power to lift and carry him and have control. The dangling elements of his limp limbs was an expression of his passivity. The more passive he could be, the more powerful I was.' In the last section, Nilsen says: 'The bodies are all gone. Everything has gone. But I still feel spiritual communion with these people.'

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peopleNational cycling charity CTC said he 'should have known better'
News
i100
Life and Style
The fashion retailers have said they will now not place any further orders for the slim mannequin
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Ugne, 32, is a Lithuanian bodybuilder
tvThey include a Lithuanian bodybuilder who believes 'cake is a sin' and the Dalai Lama's personal photographer
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Project Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an est...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Representative - OTE £55,000

£30000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Why not be in charge of your ow...

Recruitment Genius: Business Operations Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation based in Peac...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £43,000

£20000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful and rapidly gro...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food