Dennis Nilsen rumbled by plumber’s gruesome discovery after his own complaint

Dennis Nilsen wrote a letter to his estate agents complaining that the drains outside his home were blocked.

He explained the situation was intolerable for both himself and the other tenants at the property in Cranley Gardens, Muswell Hill in north London.

Secretly, Nilsen was fully aware of the sickening reason that the drain was blocked – and ultimately the complaint would be his downfall.

When Nilsen and the other tenants voiced their frustrations about the smell being produced, the landlord sent clearage company Dyno-Rod to visit the property.

Turning up at the idyllic location in leafy Muswell Hill, nothing could have prepared plumber Michael Cattran for what he would discover.

Upon opening the drain cover, mortified Cattran discovered a flesh-like substance being eaten by rats and multiple small bones.

At this point, he was unaware that he was staring at the remains of evil Nilsen’s victims.

The twisted serial killer murdered at least 12 vulnerable young men between 1978 and 1983, and later admitted performing sex acts on some of their corpses.

He lured his victims to two homes in North London, where they were strangled and drowned.

Nilsen hid the dead bodies of his victims under the floorboards of his homes and in cupboards, but realised he had to get rid of them because of the maggots and foul stench.

While living at his home in Cricklewood, Nilsen removed dissected the bodies of his victims before burning them on a bonfire in waste ground behind his flat.

But with nowhere to do this at his Muswell Hill abode, he resorted to dismembering his next three victims and boiling body parts in his kitchen so the flesh would dissolve.

The sick necrophiliac then tried to dispose of the internal organs, flesh and small bones of the men he killed by flushing them down the toilet.

While this method had not been rumbled at his previous address, the drains at his next flat became clogged with bits of rotting corpses.

When Catteran made the gruesome discovery, he was alarmed and reported his suspicious findings to supervisor Gary Wheeler.

The pair agreed to come back the following morning when the light was better to investigate further.

Worried Nilsen spoke to Cattran who revealed he had found a substance that appeared to be like human flesh.

Realising he was about to be exposed, Nilsen tried to put the drain worker off the scent.

“It looks to me like someone has been flushing down their Kentucky Fried Chicken,” Nilsen told Cattran.

When the Dyno-Rod workers returned the following morning their suspicions were aroused by another strange development.

The drain had been mysteriously cleared.

But Cattran found four bones, which looked like they were from a human hand, and scraps of flesh leading from the drain to the top flat – Nilsen’s home.

The police were called immediately and a search found even more possible remains, which were later taken to a mortuary and confirmed as human.

DCI Peter Jay and two officers waited for Nilsen to return home from work before asking to enter his flat – where they noticed the smell of rotting flesh straight away.

“Good grief, how awful,” said Nilsen as he faked surprise when informed the drain blockage had been caused by human remains.

Realising he was responsible, DCI Jay asked where the rest of the body was, so Nilsen directed him to two plastic bags in a nearby wardrobe.

Nilsen calmly claimed he would explain all at the police station and was arrested on suspicion of murder.

When asked if the human remains belonged to one or two victims as he was taken away in a police car, Nilsen chillingly replied: “Fifteen or sixteen, since 1978.”

A police search then turned up three men’s bodies in a wardrobe, tea chest and chest of drawers.

They then turned their attention to his former home in Melrose Avenue, Cricklewood, where they made more horrific discoveries.

Nilsen went with police to his former home and showed them three locations in the garden where he had burned the remains of the men he killed.

They found over 1,000 fragments of bone outside, and two legs and a torso section in a bag in the bathroom.

When he was arrested in 1983 he initially admitted to murdering 15 men or boys, who he would usually meet in bars or on public transport.

His first victim was 14-year-old Stephen Holmes, who he killed on December 30, 1978 after meeting him in the Cricklewood Arms pub.

He buried the teenager under the floorboards at 195 Melrose Avenue, where the body remained for eight months, before he burned the corpse in the garden.

Nilsen confessed to murdering 15 young men and boys – but it’s thought there could be even more victims.

He lured his victims to two homes in North London, where they were strangled and drowned.

If his victim was unconscious after being strangled, he would then drown them in a bathtub.

Nilsen pleaded guilty by way of diminished responsibility in order to be convicted of manslaughter, but on November 4 1983 he was convicted of six counts of murder and two attempted murders.

The serial killer was sentenced to life in prison and spent the last days of his life as “a loner in prison”, then died in ‘excruciating pain’.

An inquest heard that Nilsen died after having a pulmonary embolism – a blocked artery in his lung – and bleeding in his abdominal cavity on May 12, 2018.

He died from natural causes aged 72 after being found slumped over a toilet at HMP Full Sutton near York.

Hull Coroners’ Court heard he was left deteriorating in his own faeces after suffering a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, which was only detected when paramedics examined him after 6pm.

He was successfully operated on at York District Hospital and transferred to intensive care, but his condition worsened and he died in the early hours.