Obituary: Professor David Bowen

David Aubrey Llewellyn Bowen FRCP FRCPE FRCPath
(OC 1933-1939)

Born 31 January 1924, died 31 March 2011

David studied medicine at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and went on to become a renowned pathologist.

He was involved in the Dennis Nilsen case, and also that of John Duffy and David Mulcahy, the murder of PC Keith Blakelock and the death of the financier Roberto Calvi.

Bowen was portrayed by Jonathan Coy in Des, a 2020 docudrama focusing on Dennis Nilsen.

David portrayed by Jonathan Coy alongside Daniel Mays in Des (2020)

His book ‘Body of Evidence’ has been described as “Without sensationalism but with a generous dusting of dark forensic humour, David Bowen writes of the trial-making and breaking clues he uncovered during his 40 years as one of London’s key forensic pathologists. Following in the footsteps of pioneers such as Bernard Spilsbury and Keith Simpson, it was Bowen who was the first to identify the true nature of the “chicken bones” found in Denis Nilsen’s drain after a complaint by his neighbour and it was Bowen who led the investigation into the grisly contents of the black rubbish bags found in Nilsen’s home. In these memoirs we find Bowen’s take on many of the famous and challenging cases he worked on, including the tragic Railway Murders of the 1960s; the unsolved London Nude Murders of the 1960s; the baffling death of Robert Calvi, chairman of Italy’s largest bank, found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge; the frustrating PC Keith Blakelock case; and the mystery surrounding the apparent Second World War defector Rudolf Hess.”