Serial killer Dennis Nilsen spent final day bleeding internally

Serial killer Dennis Nilsen who was dubbed the Muswell Hill Murderer after he slayed up to 15 homeless gay men spent his final day in prison lying in his cell bleeding, internally before he died aged 72, inquest hears

  • Nilsen died at HMP Full Sutton last May, 34 years into his life sentence
  • An inquest heard how Nilsen spent his final hours in prison in ‘excruciating pain’ 
  • He was found to have suffered a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm

Infamous serial killer Dennis Nilsen spent his final day in prison lying in his cell suffering from internal bleeding, an inquest has heard.

The 72-year-old, known as the Muswell Hill Murderer, died at HMP Full Sutton last May, 34 years into his life sentence for carrying out a murderous spree in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Nilsen, one of the nation’s most notorious murderers, is believed to have killed as many as 15 gay men, most of them homeless, at his home in Muswell Hill, north London.  

Dennis Nilsen (right), with a prison warden at his side, after he was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years imprisonment after being convicted of six murders and two attempted murders at the Old Bailey. Infamous serial killer Nilsen spent his final day in prison at HMP Full Sutton lying in his cell suffering from internal bleeding, an inquest has heard

His inquest at Hull Coroner’s Court heard on Wednesday how the killer had isolated himself from other inmates and staff but was otherwise a good prisoner, despite regularly refusing to engage with healthcare services.

A coroner heard how the former civil servant spent his final hours in prison in ‘excruciating pain’ and lying in his own filth as he suffered a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm.

The inquiry heard how the killer presented in a ‘pale’ and ‘ashen’ state prior to his eventual death.   

Hull coroner Professor Paul Marks said of the prisoner: ‘Although he would not often talk to staff and he did not appear to have any close inmates or associates, he got on well and appeared to be a good prisoner.’

Recording his verdict, he simply said: ‘Dennis Andrew Nilsen died of natural causes.’

A coroner heard how Nilsen, (pictured) a former civil servant, spent his final hours in prison in ‘excruciating pain’ and lying in his own filth as he suffered a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm

During his killing spree, Nilsen would befriend his subjects in pubs and bars in London before luring them into his flat, where he would kill them and sit with their corpses before dismembering them.

His crimes were discovered when a drain outside his home on Cranley Gardens, Muswell Hill, became blocked by human remains that he had tried to flush away.

Nilsen was jailed for life with a recommendation he serve a minimum of 25 years in 1983, on six counts of murder and two of attempted murder. The sentence was later upgraded to a whole-life tariff.  

The inquest heard how he rang the bell in his cell to call for help on May 10 last year and told prison officers he was in ‘excruciating pain’. 

The killer’s inquest heard how he was found slumped over a toilet on the morning of May 10 last year but, after healthcare assistants found his pulse and blood pressure were within normal range, he voluntarily returned to his cell.

But, at around 5 p.m. that day, an ambulance was called to HMP Full Sutton, East Yorkshire, after it was found that his condition had deteriorated, but a Prison and Probation Ombudsman report found there was an ‘unacceptable delay’ of around 40 minutes in calling the ambulance to the prison.

Paramedics found that the prisoner had a ‘pulsing abdominal mass’, which was later found to be the ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm and a high aspiration rate of 40, where normally one of between 16 and 20 would be expected.

Hull Coroner’s Court heard how, like all men over the age of 65, Nilsen was offered an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening on the NHS, but turned it down

The notorious murderer was taken to hospital in York where he had emergency surgery but, despite the procedure being successful, he died on May 12 after being unable to cope with the blood loss and stress of the lengthy surgery.

The medical cause of death was given as a pulmonary embolism and retroperitoneal haemorrhage, linked to the ruptured aneurysm.

The report from the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman also stated that Nilsen had been left to ‘lay in his own faeces, deteriorating for two-and-a-half hours’ after rejecting the opportunity to be seen for longer in the healthcare wing on the morning of May 10 last year.

But it also stated that the treatment he initially received in prison was ‘commensurate with that which he would have received in the community’.

Lisa Noble, the head of healthcare at Full Sutton, said Nilsen had been reluctant to engage previously with healthcare assistants in the prison.

‘He did not particularly like healthcare, and he did not particularly like healthcare staff’, she told the day-long inquiry.

The inquest heard how, like all men over the age of 65, Nilsen was offered an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening on the NHS, but turned it down.

Professor Marks was told how the chances of the aneurysm being fatal would have been significantly reduced had it been discovered at a screening before it had ruptured.

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