Dennis Nilsen arrested: Did Dennis WANT to be caught? Mind of a serial killer unravelled

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Dennis Nilsen was a serial killer from Scotland who is believed to have murdered between 12 and 15 young men in London in the early 80s. Police arrested Nilsen after body parts were found in a drain outside his home, and Nilsen confessed to the killings. The cast of ITV’s Des spoke to and other media about whether Nilsen wanted to be caught.

Did Dennis Nilsen want to be caught by police?

Dennis Nilsen’s conviction is one of the most interesting in history, as there is still mystery surrounding why he killed so many men and why he confessed to the police.

In the first episode of Des, which started on ITV on September 14, detective Peter Jay (played by Daniel Mays) visited Nilsen’s home in Cranley Gardens after reports that remains, which looked human, had been found outside.

When Nilsen arrived home from work, the detective asked him about the remains and Nilsen revealed there were, in fact, more bodies stowed away in his flat.

He also candidly revealed how many people he believed he had killed and agreed to help police with their investigation to identify the victims.

This posed the question of whether Nilsen wanted to be caught by the police, as he continued to tell officers he wanted them to find justice for the victim’s families.

He went as far as calling himself a “monster” and said if police hadn’t stopped him when they had, there could be more victims.

Speaking to and other media, director Lewis Arnold said: “It’s hard to explain. He himself said he wanted to be caught but when the plumber opened up the drain he said it was KFC.

“So part of me wonders if he wanted to get the drains unblocked, but he didn’t realise people would pull up what was there.”

Questions have been raised as to whether there was an element of diminished responsibility, as Nilsen could not remember some details about the murders.

In the end, he was sentenced for six counts of murder and one of attempted murder, with police saying he was aware of what he was doing at the time.

Writer Luke Neil said Nilsen was known to have glorified himself, and he enjoyed being in the spotlight during the time of the investigation.

His narcissistic traits could have influenced his decision to open up to the police.

Neil said: “He is a contradiction in himself, which is a classic narcissist trait that whatever comes out of his mouth at the time is the truth.

“He was manipulating others and it’s just what he felt was right at the time.”

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David Tennant, who plays Nilsen, also revealed how Nilsen had been obsessed with the “legend of Des”.

He enjoyed seeing himself in the news and wanted people to tell his story.

His co-operation with the police may have also acted as a cry for help, as he had been deeply affected by the death of his beloved grandfather.

While it is not known whether the loss of his grandfather was a trigger for his behaviour, it was known to have had a huge impact on his mental health.

But there are thoughts that Nilsen had been manipulating the police the whole time, and this is apparent in the Des series, when Nilsen stopped helping detectives.

Nilsen was aware of how much the police were relying on him, and he used it to his advantage.

He also manipulated the author of his biography, Brian Masters (Jason Watkins), who visited him regularly in prison.

Watkins said: “I think he is smart to play with them both [Brian Masters and Peter Jay]. We are fascinated by him and his psychology.

“For me, the narcissism is almost as violent as the crimes, I read the book as an audiobook and it’s just the idea of the narcissism, it’s shocking.”

The real reason as to why Nilsen confessed to the police in the first place is something that may never be revealed. Nilsen died at York Hospital in 2018, having served 34 years of his lifelong sentence.

Des airs on ITV at 9pm

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