Dennis Nilsen's final wish will not be carried out, insists 'next of kin' as he is set to release killer's autobiography

Helena Horton
·2-min read
Dennis Nilsen, the serial killer, tried to get his autobiography published throughout his time in jail
Dennis Nilsen, the serial killer, tried to get his autobiography published throughout his time in jail

Dennis Nilsen's final wish will not be carried out, his 'next of kin' has insisted as he seeks to finally publish the serial killer's autobiography.

The Scottish serial killer, who died in 2018, tried multiple times to get his memoirs published from prison, but was thwarted by rules brought in by the Labour government in the late 1990s, which prohibited prisoners from profiting from crimes.

Fighting to get his words published, the killer spent over ten years trying to get the ban removed, and even tried to pursue his case with the European Court of Human Rights.

His autobiography, History of a Drowning Boy, is now due to be released this week by Mark Austin, the man he named as his next of kin after becoming a "prison pen pal" of his.

Mr Austin, 54, graphic designer and married father of two, edited the words and found an independent publisher to release them.

However, Mr Austin argued that publishing the autobiography is not the 'last wish' of the killer.

He said he has refused to scatter the ashes of his friend in the garden where many of the victims' remains were burned.

The graphic designer told the Sunday Times: "I thought it was an insult. When the time comes, I'm probably going to scatter his ashes in the sea in Fraserburgh."

Nilsen, who murdered at least 12 young men and boys between 1978 and 1983, confesses to new crimes in the thousands of pages he typed up in his cell.

In it, he details the strangulation and sexual abuse of two previously unknown male victims.

The families of the victims have said that they are frustrated with the decision to publish the thoughts of a serial killer.

The sister of Carl Stottor, who survived a murder attempt by Nilsen but later died in 2013 after battling depression and alcoholism, described the new book as "morally wrong".

"Carl fought all his life to have those memoirs stopped," Julie Bentley told the Sunday Times. "When that evil man died, I thought it was over. Why should he have his say when the victims can't have their word?"

A friend of another bereaved relative told the paper: "It's as if he's still laughing at us from beyond the grave."

Ann Widdecombe, a former Tory prisons minister, said: "Providing nobody is making any money out of it, there seems no good reason [to block publication] after this length of time."

Mr Austin has said that any royalties from the book will be given to charity.

He befriended the serial killer in 1991 "out of curiosity", and the murderer signed all his possessions to his pen pal after he died, because his family had disowned him.

The two exchanged over 800 letters, and had 70 in-prison visits together.

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