A footie fan escaped the clutches of serial killer Dennis Nilsen who bought him dinner and invited him to the home where he killed 12 men.
Nick Barrit, now 66, was 24 in March 1979 when he bumped into Nilsen on the platform at Waterloo train station.
With 36p in his pocket, Nick had missed the last train home to Christchurch, Dorset, by seconds.
Nilsen approached him and offered to take him for dinner – claiming he too was in the same predicament.
Self-employed gardener Barrit accepted Nilsen’s offer and the pair walked to the Strand Cafe in London’s West End.
After tucking into beef burgers, Barrit claims Nilsen invited him back to spend the night on his sofa and became “aggressive” when he rejected the offer.
Barrit only realised who Nilsen was decades later – in 2006 – when he watched a documentary about the notorious serial killer and necrophile.
He said the release of the ITV drama Des this week brought all the memories flooding back, and he realised how lucky he was to escape.
Nick said: “I was in a bit of a pickle and he sort of came out of nowhere.
“He told me he’d missed a train too – although he later admitted he hadn’t – and said: ‘I’ll buy you supper’.
“I had 36p in my pocket and very little other options so I decided to go with him.
“I went along and we walked to the Strand Cafe where we both ordered beef burgers, chips, peas and carrots.
“I remember him speaking in a soft Scottish accent.
“He kept staring at me and didn’t say much.
“He seemed a bit agitated. He kept getting a cigarette out to light and then putting it back – hesitating.
“After dinner he invited me back to his flat in Muswell Hill to stay on his sofa.
“He was insistent, saying he’d pay for a taxi back to the flat and then would pay for me to get a cab to the station in the morning – but I was worried I wouldn’t make my early train on time.
“As soon as I went to go he got quite stroppy about it – bordering aggressive.
“He told me ‘that’s no reason, I bought you dinner. I expect you to come back, it’s not going to cost you anything’.
“He told me he had all the booze – whisky and the like – that I could want.
“But I thanked him, shook his hand and started walking back to Waterloo.
“Now I dread to think what might have happened if I’d gone with him.”
Nick had driven from his home in Dorset to Derby to watch an Everton football match, but it was called off when the floodlights failed twice in 15 minutes.
All the streetlights were affected too, so Nick couldn’t find his car anywhere.
“I went to the police station and they told me to go to the railway station,” he said.
“I had to phone my dad in Christchurch and get him to pay for a single ticket so I could get home.”
He changed train at Liverpool Street station, walking to Waterloo for the next leg of the journey, but he missed the last train, and Nilsen prowled towards him a minute later.
“I didn’t suspect a thing,” he said.
“He was a smartly-dressed, well-spoken man – and there was me with long hair.
“I just thought he was being kind.
“As I sat there, eating my meal, I thought: ‘You look very much like Elvis Costello’ – who was a big name in those days, but I thought I better not say that to him.”
At 2.20am they parted ways – aggravating Nilsen.
“I told him I was going to head back to Waterloo station,” Nick said.
“He said: ‘Don’t walk back, come back to my place’.
“I told him: ‘How can I go back to yours, if we’ve missed the train?’ and he admitted he hadn’t and said that he’d pay for a taxi back to his flat for us.
“Now I dread to think what would have happened if I had gone back.
“I keep getting flashbacks.
“It makes me feel terrible now, but obviously at the time I never suspected a thing.
“It wasn’t until I saw a four-part Channel 4 documentary in 2006 that I realised who he was.
“I noticed that Elvis Costello lookalike, I’d sat and shared dinner with all those years ago.
“It gives me the creeps.”