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)

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