Lurid Headlines @ Fraserburgh


Well that’s Dennis Nilson dead and about time perhaps. A serial killer trapped by a plumbing problem as I recall.
I penned an article on the town of Fraserburgh a good few years ago for Leopard’s Our Town series as I recall; but conspicuously failed to mention the man described in the Press & Journal as a ‘Fraserburgh born serial killer’. Not a headline I personally would use about the place, but each to his own I suppose. In fact, if I were trying to flog a few newspapers in those far-flung fisher-towns at the very tip of Aberdeenshire’s circulation wars I might have chosen to ignore the association just in case of invasion by The Northern Scot or some similarly robust publication intent on taking full advantage of the slur that Fraserburgh is guilty of murder by association.
My column that month focused much more on the positives of the town. Bill Gibb, Thomas Blake Glover, the local heritage centre and Marconi – yes Marconi – featured but certainly not Nilsen.
Dennis of course was a son of the town. But he also lived in Strichen before
joining the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in Inverness somewhat fittingly as a regimental cook given his later behaviour. Seemingly he killed and then cooked his victims – there were at least six plus a further suspicion that the final body count may have been double that or much more – before flushing the unwanted remains down the loo.
Born in 1945 – a war baby – he moved to London in 1975 and in 1978 carried out what may have been his first murder, burying the body of his 14-year-old victim beneath the floorboards of his west-London flat.
Summer 1980 saw more killings and in 1982 he part-strangles a drag queen who survives but fails to tell the police about his experience. Finally, in the February of 1983, Nilsen – by then a Job-Centre civil servant - calls in a local plumber to unblock a blocked waste pipe. The sewer proves to be full of human body parts plus a build-up of human body fat.
In November 1983, Nilsen was jailed and he died in prison age 72 on May 12 2018.
But to claim that he was a product of Fraserburgh is a wee bit far fetched since, on balance, the man was also from Strichen and London and was, for a time at least, from the British Army.

Duncan Harley is the author of The A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire

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