Dennis Nilsen was a serial killer, but he was also a dog dad. His dog Bleep, a cute black and white mongrel, was his only friend during his five year murder spree - but he was left racked with guilt for how her life ended...
Dennis Nilsen’s dog Bleep is regarded by many as his final victim.
But the 8-year-old mongrel bitch wasn’t killed by the Scottish serial killer, she was put to sleep three weeks after his 9 February 1983 arrest.
Pitiful pictures of her taken in a dog warden’s cage show her wrongly named as “Blip”’ as police couldn’t understand Nilsen’s thick Scottish accent.
She was transferred to Battersea Dog’s Home, but rather than be rehomed to a new loving home she was humanely destroyed.
On March 5 1983 it was reported that Bleep had “pined to death” at the famous pet centre.
It was a tragic end for the “shy” and trusting dog, who Nilsen had bought with former partner David Gallichan, from a pet shop for £1 in the mid-70s.
They called her “Bleep” as that was the noise she made as a puppy.
From the moment he adopted her he was besotted with her, with home movies filmed by the couple at their Cricklewood flat showing him lovingly playing with the tiny pup, and gently scolding her for chewing his slippers.
To those who don’t know better it seems like a normal home life - but within eight years she would have witnessed murder, necrophilia, dissection and smelt corpses being burnt on bonfires bulked up with tyres.
Nilsen’s relationship with Gallichan ended after two years, but Bleep remained - and she even saved the life of one of his victims, licking semiconscious Carl Stotter awake after her master had tried to strangle and drown him.
In his strange, sad life she was an anchor of normality.
He told police that sometimes he would wake up in the morning and be surprised to see a dead body - but know that he had to take Bleep for a walk before coming home and dealing with it.
In the ITV dramatisation of Nilsen’s capture, trial and imprisonment, Des, David Tennant’s Nilsen can be seen asking police repeatedly for updates on the welfare of his beloved dog.
In last night's finale, Des is delivered the devastating news that she has died by biographer Brian Masters.
He replies: "She forgave me everything and never let me down, and then the moment of her greatest crisis, I wasn't there for her."
It is lifted from a direct quote of Nilsen’s, which reads: “I’m ashamed that her last days should be so painful. She had always forgiven me everything, and nothing but me could ever break her heart. She never let me down, but in the moment of her greatest crisis I was not there.”
Millions of Brits tuned in to Des, with some taking to Twitter to share their horror that Nilsen, who was responsible for the murder of up to fifteen men in the late 1970s and early 80s, showed more concern for his pet than the men whose lives he stole.
But while he might have loved her dearly, in hindsight it's clear that he had little concern for her mental well-being, and despite claiming that she would always be locked out when the time came to dissect his victims, it appears that she witnessed a lot of violence - and dogs, being so sensitive, are likely to find the sounds, smells and sight of death deeply disturbing.
In a letter sent to author Brian Masters, whose book Killing For Company Des is based on, Nilsen revealed that Bleep was present for his heinous crimes, from strangling men to interfering with their corpses, sometimes weeks after they had been hidden under the floorboards of his home in Cricklewood, North London.
And chillingly, he seemed to think that she was some sort of alibi to his actions coming from a dark place that he had no control over.
He wrote: “When I was on my high, Bleep would become sometimes frightened.
“She was only a simple dog but even she could see that it was not the real Des Nilsen.
“She would go off to a quiet corner and hide. She would greet me the next morning as though I had been away.
“Dogs know when your mind has been changed in a drastic way."