Married dad of two keeps a serial killer’s ashes in an urn in his front room

Mark Austin, from Bedfordshire, was close pals with evil killer Dennis Nilsen, who murdered up to 15 men he picked up from the streets between 1978 and 1983

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A father who struck an unlikely friendship with a serial killer after becoming his pen-pal has kept the fiend’s ashes in an urn on his shelf for years.

Mark Austin plans to scatter Dennis Nilsen’s ashes in the sea, a move he feels will bring “closure” to the families of those killed by Nilsen.

The murderer strangled or drowned up to 15 victims before dissecting them. He had picked them up from the streets in north London between 1978 and 1983.

Nilsen was jailed for life in 1983 and, before he died in 2018, aged 72, he named his pen-pal Mark as next of kin.

Mark Austin now plans to scatter Dennis Nilsen’s ashes at sea


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And Mark, who is a graphic designer from Bedfordshire, has kept the ashes in his front room ever since. He will scatter them in Nilsen’s hometown of Fraserburgh, Scotland, next month.

“I know people in Fraserburgh won’t be happy and it will cause a fuss but it was Des’s birthplace — and he was a human being,” Mark said.

“I think the sea in Fraserburgh is the best place.

“Des loved the sea, I think it’s what he would have wanted. It’s going to be closure and the end to it all.

“Des told me he should have the ashes scattered on the waste ground at the bottom of Melrose Avenue, which is where he burned many of his victims.

“I thought ‘that’s a bloody insult’. That’s why Fraserburgh is better. But I empathise with his victims and totally understand the anger.

“I know people will think that (having the ashes) is weird but to me it seems right. My wife is fine about it and, to me, it’s having my friend Des there.”

Mark also has 6,000 typed letters in addition to the typewriter itself


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Mark, who has two children, also received the depraved killer’s possessions in 2018, including his bird cage, typewriter, the glasses he wore in a police mugshot from 1983 plus his shoes, pencil case and radio.

Mark wrote “out of curiosity” to Nilsen in 1991 when he was serving life for the multiple murders — and they struck up a friendship.

The pair swapped hundreds of letters and found they had interests in common, including Laurel and Hardy films plus Peter Sellers.

Mark also inherited 6,000 pages of type-written notes made by Nilsen about his twisted life.

And, as The Sun reports, Mark recently became a consultant on the new Netflix documentary Memories Of A Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes.

This reveals tapes of Nilsen talking and examines his killing spree which saw him murder at least 12 boys and young men at two flats in north London.

Nilsen, a former civil servant, targeted gay men, rent boys and the homeless, luring victims to his flat where he plied them with booze, before killing and dismembering them.

Mark has a bird cage previously owned by Dennis Nilson


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Apart from two prison officers, Mark was the only person to attend Nilsen’s secret £3,300 cremation in May 2018 in the York area.

Underneath the urn is the date of the funeral — 7/6/18 — and Nilsen’s surname written in blue ink.

Mark also wrote Nilsen’s biography, History Of A Drowning Boy, which was released amid controversy in January.

He said: “I knew Des while he was in prison. He was lonely and had no life. He knew he was hated and despised.

“We had a friendship — but I never lost sight of what he did.”

Mark will now sell Nilsen’s belongings with proceeds going to IVF groups.

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