The Champion (Bayswater) - What Caused London's Most Prolific Serial Killer to go on a Bloody Rampage?
Born on 23rd November 1947, in the remote coastal village of Fraserburg (Scotland), Dennis Andrew Nilsen spent his formative years alone; with no friends to play with, no father (having been abandoned at birth) and being the youngest of seven children to a single mother, Nilsen would forever feel abandoned by anyone he ever loved, or would love. In November 1975, having recently left his career as an Army chef (the one constant in his turbulent life), Dennis Nilsen stopped off at his regular haunt - The Champion public house in Bayswater - for a much-needed rum and coke. A full psychological profile of Nilsen can be read here.
It was as he approached the doors that he saw a blond man in his early twenties, with stud earrings, rouged cheeks and a hint of lipstick, being assaulted by two older men. Nilsen - who stood at an imposing six foot two with a striking glare and a rough Aberdeenshire brogue - intervened, and a few hours later found himself getting cosy in a corner snug at The Champion with the man he’d saved – David Gallichan - who can be seen here in Dennis Nilsen's home videos, taken at their home in Melrose Avenue. Two complete strangers whose lives would be immeasurably changed forever as they bonded over a few light libations (rum & coke), who’d both found what they were looking for; a moneyed father-figure in Nilsen and a youthful soul-mate in Gallichan, who Nilsen would later nickname “Twinkle”.
Believing he had finally found “the one”, Nilsen used his inheritance (a surprising gift from his recently deceased Norwegian father who he’d never met) and rented a one-bedroomed flat in North London’s Muswell Hill, so the two could settle down like an old married couple. They decorated, dined and even adopted a stray cat called Dee-Dee and a mongrel collie-cross called Bleep… but it was not to be. As Nilsen slipped into the easy comfort of “marital bliss” by staying in, snuggling down and generally being a bit of a homebody, Twinkle’s wayward ways – of drinking, flirting and sleeping around - were only exacerbated by Nilsen’s middle-aged traits, as the playful and flirtatious Twinkle decided to move on to the next meal-ticket. One who was less domineering, jealous or prone to outbursts of anger.
In 1978, a few short (but turbulent) years since they had met, Twinkle walked out on Nilsen forever. Bitter, angry and rejected, Nilsen began to drink until he blacked out, and as his anger towards Twinkle swelled, he’d go in search in many of West London’s local pub for young men, who just like his ex’, many would often be blonde, slim and vulnerable, who he hoped would fill Twinkle’s place. But once these potential boyfriends got inside his flat, drank his rum and flaked out; Nilsen - wracked with an uncontrollable streak of jealous paranoia - knew there was only one way to stop them from rejecting him (as so many had done before) and that was to kill them, so they would stay forever. And often, he’d relive his sordid fantasy of a happy home life, by watching telly, having a meal, taking a bath and even having sex with their corpses, as if it was a supposedly normal and loving relationship.
In November 1975, Dennis Nilsen - a mild-mannered man who had never killed before - met David “Twinkle” Gallichan at The Champion (Bayswater). Exactly four years later, Twinkle’s rejection of Nilsen’s affections would lead him down a deadly road of murder spanning five years and leaving fifteen young men dead, making Dennis Nilsen one of Britain’s most prolific serial killers.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten quirky & unusual things to do in London” and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totalling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
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Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster & tour guide of Murder Mile Walks, hailed as one of the best "quirky curious & unusual things to do in London".
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