Dennis Nilsen is the centre of ITV’s latest drama, Des, which details the serial killer’s dark deeds but just when was Dennis Nilsen convicted?

Thanks to the delays caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, ITV viewers have been starved of brand new drama series since April.

But now, as September gets into full swing, ITV is treating its viewers to the most engrossing and disconcerting drama series of 2020.

Des, which tells the story of serial killer Dennis Nilsen, arrived on September 14th and details the events that led to Nilsen being sentenced to life in prison.

But just when was Dennis Nilsen convicted and what happened to the Scottish serial killer after he was sent to prison?

Des on ITV

Des arrived on ITV on September 14th, 2020.

The three-episode series, shown on consecutive nights, tells the grim story of Dennis Nilsen, a notorious serial killer who was found guilty of murdering six people and the attempted murder of two more, although the total number of murder victims is thought to be twice that amount.

We follow DCI Peter Jay as Dennis Nilsen is arrested and evidence is gathered into his sordid deeds before the long process of a trial begins which is complicated by Nilsen’s association with biographer Brian Masters.


When was Dennis Nilsen convicted?

  • Dennis Nilsen was convicted on November 4th, 1983 on six counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder.

After Dennis Nilsen was first arrested on suspicion of murder on February 9th, 1983 after a plumber discovered what appeared to be human remains blocking the drains of Nilsen’s flat.

Upon his arrest, Nilsen was initially co-operative with police officers and gave details of where victims’ remains could be found.

However, after speaking with biographer, Brian Masters, Nilsen became much less co-operative with officers and despite confessing to the crimes early on in the investigation, entered a plea of not guilty at court after consultation with defence lawyer, Ralph Haeems.

Nilsen’s trial began on October 24th, 1983 and concluded on November 4th with the serial killer being convicted of six counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder.


After conviction

After being convicted, Dennis Nilsen was sentenced to life in prison with a recommendation that he would serve a minimum of 25 years.

Nilsen was originally taken to Wormwood Scrubs but in December 1983 was attacked by another inmate with a razor blade which left him needing a reported 89 stitches.

After that, Nilsen was moved between several prison facilities including Parkhurst, Wakefield and Whitemoor.

In 1994, Nilsen’s 25-year minimum sentenced was upgraded to a whole life tariff, meaning he would never be released from prison.

In 2003, Nilsen was transferred again, this time to HMP Full Sutton, where he remained until his death from a pulmonary embolism and retroperitoneal haemorrhage on May 12th, 2018.

Des continues on ITV on September 15th and concludes on September 16th while the opening episode is available to stream now on ITV Hub.

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