Forensic Medicine/Pathology
Designatory Letters: 
MB Camb 1947, MRCP Edin 1954, D Path 1955, DMJ 1962, FRCP Edin 1971, FRCPath 1975, FRCP Lond 1982

Dennis Nilsen was convicted of six murders but later it was revealed that he had killed no less than 15 men and attempted to kill at least seven more. The forensic pathologist who had to examine hundreds of bones initially to prove they were human and not poultry bones as had been suspected, a key witness for the prosecution, was David Bowen of Charing Cross Hospital, London.

His well-justified fame and the respect of his many colleagues, was based on many such cases, best described as notorious rather than famous. They ranged from IRA victims to gangland stabbings, the death of the protester Blair Peach, the killing of Mrs Ann Lock by the railway rapists Duffy and Mulcahy, and the accidental death of Graham Hill. He later raised suspicions and doubts about the deaths of Rudolph Hess and the Italian banker Roberto Calvi, his casebook eventually numbering 500 murders and suspicious deaths.

He was the son of a Welsh GP and studied Medicine at the Welsh National School of Medicine, Cardiff, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and Middlesex Hospital Medical School, London. Initially he planned a career in tuberculosis but then contracted it himself. His second interest was pathology leading to him training in histopathology and clinical pathology, and gaining valuable experience at the Royal Marsden Hospital before accepting the post of demonstrator in forensic pathology at St. George’s Hospital, London under Professor Donald Teare.

He developed his department at Charing Cross to an eventual team of 13 pathologists, toxicologists and others. He worked there from 1973-1989, and was professor from 1977. On his retirement in 1991 he was appointed Emeritus Professor of Forensic Medicine, University of London. He authored many papers and held numerous position of distinction in the UK and abroad.

Like many great men he was a keen sportsman, competing in several London Marathons, playing hockey into his sixties and taking up riding in his seventies. He lost his first wife, Joan, in 1973 and later married Helen who survives him with his two sons and a daughter from his first marriage.