A LEADING forensic expert has revealed she was asked to help identify more victims of serial killer Dennis Nilsen.

Dame Professor Sue Black was brought in by the Metropolitan Police after a family member came forward in recent years to say they thought their relative may have been murdered by Nilsen.

Nilsen, originally from Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, was jailed at the Old Bailey in 1983 after being convicted of six charges of murder and two of attempted murder.

However he claimed to have killed up to 15 men and boys, whom he had befriended in pubs before luring them to homes in north London, where he would kill them and dismember their corpses.

It was hoped that advances in DNA technology since the time might allow more of his victims to be identified.

Inverness-born Professor Black, a forensic anthropologist, and her team had to sift through “thousands and thousands” of human bone fragments which were recovered from the crime scenes.

However, she said that due to the vast amount of remains and their tiny size it would be “almost impossible” to identify a person from them.

Speaking to broadcaster Janice Forsyth on the Great Scot podcast, she said: “I probably wasn’t aware of the case at the time but what I can say is I have physically been involved in it since.

“There had been so much advances in things like DNA since that time and a few years ago a family member had come forward concerned that their family member had been one of the victims.

“The police had still retained a significant volume of skeletal material and so we were tasked with going through what were thousands and thousands of fragments of bone.

“It was to catalogue what was there and to show to the families that actually it would be almost impossible to DNA every single fragment because it would take years to do and a vast amount of money to be able to do.

“There were no large enough pieces in what we had remaining that would allow them to be able to identify their family member.”

Nilsen died aged 72 in 2018 while serving a whole life sentence.

His crimes were the subject of a recent ITV drama called Des, as Nilsen was known, which starred David Tennant, pictured left, as the serial killer. Professor Black voiced concerns about murder cases being turned into “entertainment” while victims’ relatives are still alive.

She added: “These cases become stories, and stories as they pass in time become less personal. But for as long as these stories are within living memory of people who are affected by it they are more than stories because they have the ability to come back to life.

“When there are no longer people alive who had a physical involvement these cases pass into another dimension and become these historical stories that we can almost listen to in a detached way like we do with Jack the Ripper.

“It’s not affecting us today so it becomes a story, it can become entertainment. It’s not entertainment when there are people alive who are affected by it.

“That for me is the difficult boundary between when a story becomes a story and when it still affects those to whom it really matters.”

Professor Black was Professor of Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology at the University of Dundee for 15 years. In 2018 she became Pro Vice-Chancellor for Engagement at Lancaster University.