Dennis Nilsen: Who was Kenneth Ockenden?

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David Tennant portrays prolific serial killer Dennis Nilsen in Des on ITV. Episode two of the three-part series focuses on the police investigation, led by DCI Peter Jay (played by Daniel Mays). Who was Kenneth Ockenden? has everything you need to know.

Who was Kenneth Ockenden?

Kenneth Ockenden was a Canadian student visiting relatives in Britain when he encountered Dennis Nilsen.

He is believed to be the second known murder victim at the hands of Dennis Nilsen.

Ockenden, 23, was sadly killed on December 3, 1979, at Nilsen’s home on Melrose Avenue.

They had met at a West End pub on December 3, and was shown around London by Nilsen, before visiting his flat for food and more drinks.

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On the way home, they stopped off at an off licence store and purchased whisky, rum and beer.

But it was in Nilsen’s home where Ockenden was strangled with the cord of Nilsen’s headphones as he listened to music.

Ockenden was one of the nine victims killed at 195 Melrose Avenue, Nilsen’s first address in the Muswell Hill Area. His final three victims were killed at 23 Cranley Gardens.

Ockenden was one of the three victims, alongside Stephen Holmes and Graham Allen who had fixed address at the time of his death.

Nilsen’s other victims did not have permanent addresses as they were mainly runaways, homeless or sex workers.

Ockenden’s death came two months after the attempted murder of a Hong Kong student Andrew Ho.

Ockenden was one of the few of Nilsen’s murder victims who was widely reported a missing person in 1979.

His case was investigated by British police for approximately thee years.

Despite an extensive investigation, no evidence was found to explain Ockenden’s disappearance.

In the series Des, DCI Peter Jay investigates Ockenden’s murder after Nilsen spontaneously confessed to the killing.

His superiors pushed him not to pursue the claim, but it was later uncovered from fingerprint evidence Ockenden had visited Nilsen’s flat.

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Who were Dennis Nilsen’s other victims?

Dennis Nilsen killed 12 young men and boys between 1978 and 1983.

However, he had admitted to police the true number of victims may have been 15 or 16.

He later retracted this statement, claiming the true total of victims was 12.

Unfortunately, seven of Nilsen’s victims were unable to be identified.

Nilsen’s identified victims were:

  • Stephen Dean Holmes, 14
  • Kenneth Ockenden, 23
  • William Sutherland, 26
  • Martyn Duffey, 16
  • John Howlett, 23
  • Stephen Sinclair,20
  • Graham Allen, 27
  • Malcolm Barlow, 23

On February 11, 1983, Nilsen was formally charged with the murder of 20-year-old Stephen Sinclar, who at the time was believed to be his final victim, and was transferred to Brixton prison where he was held before his trial.

Nilsen’s trial began on October 24, 1983, at the Old Bailey in London.

On November 4, 1983, Nilsen was sentenced to life imprisonment after he was found guilty of six counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder.

Nilsen was sentenced to life imprisonment on November 4, 1983, with a recommendation he served a minimum of 25 years.

In 1994, the minimum term of 25 years was replaced by a whole life sentence by Home Secretary Michael Howard.

Nilsen died in prison on May 12, 2018, from a pulmonary embolism and retroperitoneal haemorrhage. He was 72-years-old at the time of his death.

Des continues tonight at 9pm on ITV

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