Des: what happened to serial killer Dennis Nilsen?

David Tennant is currently starring in the new ITV drama Des as Dennis Nilsen, one of Britain’s most notorious serial killers who killed as many as 15 men before being apprehended. 

The new show, which also stars Daniel Mays and Jason Watkins, will look at the investigation into Dennis’ crimes, and how he was eventually caught. But what happened to the real-life Dennis following his arrest? Find out here… 

WATCH: David Tennant stars in Des

According to Laura Foreman’s Serial Killers, Dennis almost immediately confessed to the crimes after being arrested, telling officers: “It’s a long story; it goes back a long time. I’ll tell you everything. I want to get it off my chest. Not here — at the police station.” When he was asked if anyone else lived at his flat, he added: “Fifteen or sixteen, since 1978.” Speaking about why he killed so many people, he reportedly said: “I wished I could stop, but I couldn’t. I had no other thrill or happiness.”

David will star as Dennis Nilsen in the ITV show

Dennis was jailed in 1983 for a minimum of 25 years on six counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder. By the time of his death aged 72, he had spent 34 years in prison

How did Dennis Nilsen die? 

Dennis died in York Hospital in May 2018 after becoming ill at Full Sutton Prison, where he was serving his sentence. According to an inquest at Hull Coroners Court back in 2018, he had been taken to hospital after suffering stomach pains, and was found to have a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm.

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After undergoing surgery for the aneurysm, he died due to surgery complications after suffering a blood clot following the procedure. According to the post-mortem, his cause of death was a pulmonary embolism and retroperitoneal haemorrhage.

Speaking about his death, a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “Mr Nilsen was cremated, and his ashes have been passed to his next of kin. Policy states prisons must offer to pay a contribution towards reasonable funeral expenses. HMP Full Sutton contributed a total of £3,323.” 

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