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ITV crime drama ‘Des’ has revisited the atrocities committed by Dennis Nilsen, known as the Muswell Hill Murderer. ‘Doctor Who’ actor David Tennant stars as the Scottish serial killer who preyed on young men in London from 1978 until 1983. He was sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of six murders and two attempted murders, but it’s estimated that he killed at least 15. Once he strangled his victims to death, he carried out a bizarre ritual where he would bathe, dress and then talk to them before he got rid of their bodies. Some of them were hidden under the floorboards until the smell became too much and he burned them on a bonfire. Others were dismembered, boiled and then flushed down the toilet and hidden in plastic bin liners.
When questioned by police, Nilsen detailed his murders without any sign of regret or remorse and it’s believed that he could have killed in excess of 15 people.
There are at least four who survived his attacks – including two who gave shocking accounts of their experiences to the police only for them not to be investigated to the fullest extent.
One of them was Carl Stottor who met Nilsen at a Camden bar and returned to his house where they had sex.
He claimed the Scot seemed to be “a nice guy” and added: “He didn’t have ‘murderer’ tattooed across his face or anything like that, he was nice and I slept with him.”
But later that evening, Nilsen tried to murder Mr Stottor while he slept – only for him to realise that the young man wasn’t dead and in a bizarre twist suddenly tried to save his life.
Criminologist Professor David Wilson said: “You’ve got a classic example of Nilson initially killing trying to kill and believing he’s killed the victim but then realising that the young man is actually still alive.
“Then Nilsen goes into ‘Good Samaritan mode’ trying to help the young man get better.
“Nilsen is able to inhabit a kind of parallel universe in which he no longer sees himself as being someone who is doing wrong but actually can interpret his actions as somebody who is doing good.”
Mr Stottor recoiled as he recalled that Nilsen “killed me, he strangled me” and then “dragged me into a bath of water”.
When he realised the young man was still alive he tried “heart massage, mouth to mouth resuscitation” and other tactics to bring him “back to life”.
Mr Stottor, who stayed in Nilsen’s home for three days, explained: “He told me that what happened was that I got caught up in my sleeping bag zip and that was it.
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“And I believed him because you don’t think that somebody’s going to try and kill you – anyway he did.”
In reality, biographer Brian Masters, played by Jason Watkins in ‘Des’, told a different story from the killer’s own accounts.
He said: “What he did first of all was attack him from behind with a tie and throttled him, he thought he was dead but he wasn’t.
“When he thought he was dead, he got himself a rum and coke and lit another cigarette and said to himself ‘Here we go again’ – as if this had been done by somebody else.
“When he realised the man was alive, he then got extra blankets and rubbed his legs to get the blood circulating properly, he put on an extra fire.”
The accounts were recounted in ‘Muswell Hill Murderer: Was Dennis Nilsen Born to Kill’, which aired in January this year on the YouTube channel Real Crime.
Mr Stottor wasn’t the only one to be allowed to survive by Nilsen – there were at least three others who were nearly killed.
Some of whom went to the police, but their claims were not investigated further – the documentary claimed.
Mr Stottor reported Nilsen to the police but was not contacted until after the killer was arrested after he had confessed.
The testimony of Douglas Stuart, another near-victim, was also written-off after he showed police red marks on his neck from where the murderer had tried to strangle him.
The final two episodes of ‘Des’ will air on ITV on September 15 and 16.
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