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27 August 2005
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<TD =xq>EXCLUSIVE: DENNIS NILSEN: MY PRISON LIFE OF DRINK AND DRUGS
Exclusive By Luke David
HIGH on drink and drugs, serial killer Dennis Nilsen spends his time in prison writing rambling letters to an ex-Army pal, boasting how he has landed on his feet.
Bookworm Nilsen, 59, is serving life after slaughtering 15 young men. And in a series of smug letters, he brags of prison-brewed booze and cannabis sessions in the safety of his maximum security cell at Full Sutton jail, Yorks, while violent vendettas rage among the prison population.
The former soldier - he served in the catering corps before getting a job in the civil service on his discharge - writes: "Quite a few of us get pissed with liver crippling draughts of prison hooch, that last vestige of herbal medicine still available to cons."
But Nilsen prefers smoking drugs to boozing. He says: "The devil makes work for idle thirsts. But given the choice between booze and cannabis, I go for ganja every time.
"A few days ago a package containing a couple of mobile phones and some drugs was thrown over the wall here into the sports field."
The killer also mocks the authorities' attempts to shut down the illicit breweries.
"The hooch brewers never give up," he writes. "As soon as one cache is discovered by the screws another is already on the brew.
"As for the ganja smokers - well, apparently, there's no business like blow business. I used to have a budgie named Hamish.
"After nine years he started on the final chorus of 'there's no business like blow business' before falling off his perch. I've felt guilty about passive smoking ever since."
During his five-year killing spree, Nilsen prowled the streets of London hunting down young male drifters.
Tempting them back to his home, first in Muswell Hill and later in Cricklewood, Nilsen plied his victims with alcohol before persuading them to submit to gay sex sessions, then killing them.
Initially he stuffed their bodies under the floorboards, later he dismembered them, boiled them and tried to flush the remains down the sewers.
He was caught in 1981 after a plumber was called in to unblock the drains and uncovered a putrid mass of body parts beneath Nilsen's flat.
When police raided they found the partly-boiled head of his final victim, Stephen Sinclair and the remains of victims he believed were his "friends". Nilsen was jailed in for life 1983.
To alleviate the boredom behind bars he took a job in the prison library, translating books into Braille.
He claims to have read 51 books in the past two years.
Recent titles include Ulrika Jonsson's autobiography Honest, Lulu's I Don't Want To Fight and Alice Sebold's best-seller The Lovely Bones - about the murder of a schoolgirl and dismembering of her mutilated body. In his letters he boasts about the volume of mail he receives: "I spend my days reading and writing. You would be amazed at the amount of correspondence I get.
"Part of the time is spent in the workshop transcribing books into Braille."
His chief regret is that Home Office rules prevent him publishing his own life story, Nilsen: History Of A Drowning Man.
The killer complains: "It is frustrating to be translating other people's autobiographies whilst mine is lying unpublished, banned by the Home Office."
A WAY from his cell and job, Nilsen says he keeps his head down to avoid trouble. Knife attacks and arson are - he claims - routine.
He writes: "Full Sutton is a soap opera with added blood. You don't serve your sentence, you survive it.
"Being a loner has its advantages, a self-containment necessary for keeping body and 'soul' alive and progressing. Dying in prison is not such a great problem as living in prison.
"You have to keep your wits about you. Some nutter could stick a blade in you at any time.
"There was a double stabbing at Islamic prayers the other day. There was a stabbing on A wing last weekend - a lockdown - with someone being burned out on Monday.
"And a couple of days ago the guy in the cell opposite me cut up his right arm with a blade and was shunted off to Healthcare
"Another prisoner was found bleeding and dead in the segregation unit and some other prisoner found murdered on this wing."
But despite the lawless atmosphere he describes, Nilsen reckons there is an inmate code of honour.
"Petty thieving is a rarity here - cell thieves are the lowest of the low. Anyone caught goes straight off the wing - better than being found dead in the shower-room."
Nilsen's letters are filled with sarcastic, spiteful rants against his pet hates. Much of his time is spent glued to the colour television in his cell, and in one note he launches into a pompous attack on Channel 4's Big Brother and television soaps.
He writes: "There is nothing more unreal than what they call Reality TV. I would rather be down s*** street than Coronation Street.
"And I never watch Big Brother - that unreal ghetto of performing bozos."
Finally, and pathetically, he looks back to his time in the Army as a source of some comfort, writing: "Whatever else happened afterwards I can take some pride in having been a good and effective soldier who, when my time was finished, received a discharge book which had me recorded as being of 'exemplary' conduct."
We put Nilsen's drink and drugs claims to the prison service. A spokeswoman did not deny drug-taking or brewing of alcohol went on in Full Sutton.
She said: "We take the brewing of hooch and the abuse of drugs in prison extremely seriously.
"Across the prison service we work closely with police to target serious criminals who are involved with the supply of drugs.
"There is little opportunity to throw drugs over the walls at Full Sutton as prisoners don't have access to the grounds near the perimeter fence."
Norman Brennan, director of the Victims of Crime Trust which represents the families of murder victims, said: "It is outrageous that this should be going on in Full Sutton.
"But we are not surprised. This is how a lot of murderers spend their time inside.
"I believe a blind eye is taken in prisons to drink and drug-taking. The prison service don't run our prisons anymore. Certain groups of criminals do. It's woeful." </TD></TR></T></TABLE></TD></TR></T></TABLE>
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