Remembering Nelson Asu

29 March 2016 by Matt

MOL.2014.135 Asu2Working on the Pride and Prejudice project I often encounter things that I find familiar, like a bar, or a band. Just as often I find out stories that I had not heard before, some funny, some shocking, and some heart breaking.

Early on in the project we uncovered a copy of APN magazine, from January 1997, with Lily Savage on the front cover. Looking through the magazine I found an article, ‘Murder hunt in Merseyside’, which described the 1996 murder of Nelson Asu. I’d never heard his name before.

Eventually I found myself in touch with Nelson Asu’s sister, Vanessa, and after meeting her I understood that Nelson’s story had to be told.

Nelson 4Nelson was born in Liverpool in October 1972, the youngest of four siblings, Leon, Jason, Vanessa, and Nelson. They grew up in Toxteth, moving to High Park Street as young children where they enjoyed a normal, happy childhood.

Nelson told his sister that he was gay, later coming out to his parents when he was 16. Vanessa remembers, “I used to go out with them, to all the gay bars”.

Nelson moved to Catharine Street, where he grew sunflowers in his garden. He started a modelling career, going to photo shoots in Manchester and taking part in fashion shows at Garlands nightclub in Liverpool.

Nelson was a popular face on the gay scene in Liverpool in the early 1990s, his sister remembers how “he was the life and soul of every party”.

Nelson’s father died in 1995, leaving him devastated, but he focused on keeping his mother’s spirits up.

On 21 November 1996 Nelson met two men in the She Club on Victoria Street. The two men pretended to be gay to gain Nelson’s trust and around 7.30pm the three of them made their way back to Nelson’s flat.

Nelson 5At some point in the evening the two men revealed that they were thieves. They threatened Nelson with a knife, pushed him to the ground and tied him up. Finally they placed a red cloth over his face and head and as they prepared to leave his flat they forced him into a trunk with no room to move.

Nelson was found on Monday 25 November 1996 when his mother, sister, and sister’s then partner gained entry to his flat following information that he had not been seen for days. By the time they found him Nelson had been dead some time, having asphyxiated and choked on his own vomit.

The following day the two men who had put Nelson in the trunk were apprehended. Initially denying any involvement, one of the accused later admitted his role in Nelson’s death saying, “I noticed the trunk and thought, we’ll stick him in here and he won’t be able to call the police for a while” (Regina vs. John David Alexand**, Court of Appeal, 04/03/1998).

The two men were found guilty of manslaughter and served time in prison.

Soon after Nelson’s death the nightclub Garlands held a fashion show in his honour , raising £1100 in his memory.

Nelson’s family were devastated. Though his death was unbelievably tragic, his sister wants him to be remembered as the fun, welcoming, and generous person he was.

So many people adored him because he had that bubbly personality. He was loved by so many people”. – Vanessa, 2016

  1. Jodi Lee Allen says:

    I’ll never forget you junior .
    My gorgeous uncle xxxxxxxx

  2. Leroy Smith says:

    I remember my mom telling me about our Junior. We were all crushed, as we had just been over to visit everyone the summer before my uncle Nelson had passed in ’95. Junior was definitely taken from us too soon.

  3. Dannielle Allen says:

    He was like a beautiful ray of sunshine xx

  4. Rachel Awork says:

    I remember reading about this,
    So very sad and distressing to know what this poor lad must have gone through,hope you are dancing with the Angels lad ( forever young and beautiful) X X

    • Matt says:

      If there’s one thing I keep hearing about Nelson its how he loved to dance and party!

  5. Sarah rawlinson says:

    I always remember your big smile and laugh And Making everyone laugh. You was taken to soon and left a big void in Liverpool. GBNF Nelson xxxx

  6. Paul Millan says:

    One of the shining lights from my childhood I was lucky enough to know him well. The first gay person I knew who taught me to know who he was not what he was values I still hold today and will forever. Dance moves I still see and as bubbly as can be you will always be “Junior” to me X

    • Matt says:

      Really lovely to hear that you learned such a wonderful lesson from nelson’s example, his legacy definitely lives on.

  7. Irene Milson MBE says:

    Nelson was such a lovely person he always had the most beautiful smile.
    it was so tragic to loose him the whole community were devastated when we learnt of his death.
    such a beautiful person still in are thoughts.
    R.I.P Nelson with your Mum and Dad.
    never forgotten.

  8. Jason Jenkins says:

    WOW . NELSON was a great friend of mine . We had a great group of friends that all lived round the canning area . We loved our curry and our music Toni braxton SECRETS. Album nelson adored we played it all the time in my flat and nelsons flat ..and I made his Fave lamb curry .. We even had our own friends gang name TLC. Toxteth looking crisp . Ha . We thought were awesome the toxteth gays all about our tocky swag and RNB. Music . Miss you nelson .. TLC .. Jason . Mica . Peter . Melvin .. GBNF XXX

  9. paulibe says:

    Nelson was the most loving boy you could of ever met, i new him from a baby who had grown up to be a beautiful kind big hearted boy.he would help anyone you didn’t have to ask he would always offer, such a sad loss to this world i’ll never forget you nelson sleep tight sweetie,xxxxx

    • Matt says:

      Everyone who has spoken to me about Nelson mentions what a lovely, generous person he was. What a wonderful thing to be remembered for.

  10. Hilary says:

    Nelson was a friend and such a lovely lad his smile always lit up town and his dance moves were legand rip my friend xXx

  11. Jayne O'Toole (McPartland) says:

    Nelson was four years older than me in school. He was absolutely beautiful inside and out, he just shine and I always knew he’d have been a star given the chance.

    Nelson had a lovely way about him, a smile or a hello for everyone…..I’ll always remember him as a 16 year old superstar.

    • Matt says:

      Definitely a superstar taken too soon, but so lovingly remembered by all those who met him.

  12. rena spaine says:

    I was heartbroken when I heard what had happened to Nelson. Such a lovely lad he was a great person. I can never forget him he was loving life he was great fun an his sense of humour was fabulous he made us cry with laughter he was a lovely lad who will always be missed bless him

    • Matt says:

      I was also heartbroken as I heard more about Nelson’s life. A truly upsetting story but also lovely to hear from all of those he knew and cared about during his life.

    • vida spaine says:

      I remember him too. I went to St Silas school. Think he went there too. I was only very little but I remember him making a big impression on me…being kind, friendly and funny. His personality was infectious. A very sweet person x

  13. Lesley jines says:

    Nelson, who was also known as Junior really was too nice for this world…he grew up with and was good friends with my nephew Earl. Junior was like a member of our family. I have never met anyone who has anything bad to say about this young man who was taken from us all too soon.
    A bright light went out in our community the day Nelson died. He was a special, gentle soul who always had a hug smile and hello God all he met. We remember him still and always will xxxx

    • Matt says:

      Twenty years later and I’m blown away by all of the love and warmth that people have for him. I don’t think such an amazing person will ever be forgotten.

  14. Alwyn says:

    I remember him well. I remember his as a real genuine guy, who was also one of the funniest people you could meet (I’m smiling now just writing this).

    It was shocking when this took place, however, every now and again I still remember him and he still brings a smile to my face.


    • Matt says:

      Reading all the lovely comments here is bringing a smile to my face as well, gone but not forgotten.

  15. maria spann says:

    Nelson was so lovable, full of life and a genuine pleasure to know. Forgotten is something he could never

    • Matt says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more Maria. All of these comments show just how loved and remembered he is.

  16. linzie says:

    I went to cslderstones school with nelson..we had such a good laugh..always upto mischief. .loved by us all.then I used to see nelson around and about after school.then he was the life and soul in garlands..such a cheeky smile..sadly missed..he was such a wonderful person

    • Matt says:

      When I first started looking at LGBT stories in Liverpool for the museum I met with some of the people from Garlands and within minutes the conversation had turned to Nelson. He is still remembered there with love.

  17. Donna powell says:

    Lovely lovely guy wouldn’t harm a fly so so so sad

  18. Anji says:

    Oh so sad for everyone and the human race…. I despair,. Thanku for sharing.. RIP NELSON..

  19. Anne Marie says:

    R I P X x

  20. Anita says:

    A beautiful individual, with a beautiful sole. GBNF

  21. Ian Scott says:

    I went to loads of parties in the company of Nelson in the 90s. He was gentl,whitty,charming and hilariously funny. I was extremely shocked when I heard that he had died . A great spirit left the gay scene in Liverpool that day. He had so much more to give to Liverpool and the world .xx

    • Matt says:

      He really was was the life and soul! I’m really humbled over the memories people are sharing of Nelson here.

  22. irene tierney says:

    We used to live a few doors away on high park st Nelson was friends with my 3 sons Jamie Paul and Christopher he was a lovely genuine helpful lad if he saw me carrying shopping bags he would take them of me and carry them home for me a lovely young gentleman he just didn’t deserve what happened to him

    • Matt says:

      One of the things that keeps coming across about Nelson is how kind and generous he was. Liverpool should be rightly proud of such a great person.

  23. r jones says:

    I worked in a shop on Slater St called vintage clothing. I met Nelson a few times as he was a regular visitor and would often buy jackets etc from the shop. Nelson was always very friendly nice guy and always talkative.

    Rip nelson

  24. Becky Ohare says:

    The most gorgeous person inside out he was a model with striking good looks and the funniest person ever love and miss him so much salt of the earth Nelson asu your forever in our hearts 💔

    • Matt says:

      Sadly we’ll never know what might have come of his modelling career. What we do know is how loved and cherished he was by those that knew him. He’ll never be forgotten.

  25. Vanessa allen says:

    Omg I so overwhelmed by everyone’s comment am in tears reading them thank you all so much for your lovely comments,most of all thank you Matt for doing this for my lovely brother x

    • Kathleen mcginnity says:

      This is a lovely memorial to your baby bro Vanessa, so glad you done this.
      Brill that everyone is celebrating Nelsons life 20 years on xxx

    • Vanessa hanley was reid says:

      Omg he was such a happy character all the time loved him so much thk bout him often just hp hes dancing his arse off with all r other loved ones miss u mate always an ul neva b forgotten ever xxxx❤️❤️❤️❤️Xxxx

    • Matt says:

      I’m just so glad that his story is being told and that he is remembered so beautifully by so many people.

  26. Justine Angunoby says:

    What can I say. My cousin Nelson really was an amazing person. A few years older than me, maybe 4. He was always trying me out for fashion shows telling me I was “powerful” haha I’ll never forget being in thst very flat in Catharine Street and him teaching me to catwalk for his shows. I’ll also never forget how absolutely gawjus he was, how funny he was, how kind he was and I’ll never forget that cute distinctive lisp he had that he never quite grew out of.
    Junior, I will always love and remember you. Matt, thanks for writing about him and Nessa, I’m so proud of you and love you lots xx xx xx

  27. Maria says:

    Every time U Seen Nelson He Was Always Smiling & Never A Wrong Word About Anyone…R.I.P Junior …G.B.N.F Xxx

  28. Susan young says:

    Nelson was a lovely friend so loving,caring he was one in a million xx

  29. karen mcpartland says:

    Breaks my heart reading this nelson was abouslulty a beautiful person never without a smile he came from a lovely family no family should ever go threw what they have how can people be so evil to take a beautiful person away his whole life a head of him my heat breaks for Nessa his lovely sister party with the angels nelson xxxxxxxx

  30. Linda says:

    He was just so friendly. I was a couple of years above him in school at st Silas. I’d see him around loads after we left and he always greeted you like an old friend. Adorable lad. So sad, he should still be here X

  31. Carol veregan says:

    Lovely lad, heart of gold xx

  32. Shirley Marshall says:

    Beautiful inside and out, too good to ever be forgotten xxx

  33. Lily says:

    Such a shining star Nelson always put a smile on my face, so sad he was taken from us so soon xxx

  34. Donna Kassim says:

    The love we all felt for Nelson was tangible he was the embodiment of beauty in a physical and emotional sense he was a cool brave and proud young man with a big heart ❤️ As a society many young men and women are still striving for gender equality and challenging discrimination and injustice daily we all have a duty to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in Liverpool alone homophobic attacks have increased year on year! I am so happy to see Nelsons story being shared and to have had the privilege of knowing him from the adorable boy he was to the man he became. Liverpool Pride should ensure that stories like this are shared and a lasting memorial be commissioned in our city

  35. Kathleen mcginnity says:

    What can I say that already hasnt been said, Nelson was truely loved by all that knew him.
    He was me little bezzy, his zest for life was infectious.
    Nelson was handsome, stylish, ultra cool and just so much fun.
    So glad I was able to have him in my life, he left a lasting mark on my heart, I thank him for the fun times we had.
    Thanks Matt for doing this piece so Nelsons name lives on.
    GBNF My little mate 🌹

  36. Natalie Allen says:

    My gorgeous cousin junior will always be in my heart remember when he use to do my hair wen I was little he always had me laughing reading all these comments just prove what a lovely person he was actually in tears wrighting this 💔💔😢

  37. Em . says:

    I met Nelson on my first day of school in Quarry Bank .He stood out amongst everyone else with his cheeky smile and flamboyant manner. He quickly made an impression on me by dancing around the classroom and pretending to flirt with the girls . Everyone loved him , he was as memorable as his then , unusual name. As a rather shy 11 year old , I was grateful for his friendliness and kindness towards me as the weeks went on . I left the school the following year and sadly never saw him again until the early nineties when a friend pointed him out as he dashed into a cab on his way to a club. My fleeting glimpse captured the same cheeky smile and slinky moves I remembered from our youth. He shouted a quick greeting and was gone . I’m now heartbroken to hear that he didn’t make it through to the millennium . What a tragic waste of a beautiful life . My thoughts go out to all of his family and the countless friends he must have made over the years . I hope everyone continues to keep his name alive . God bless you Nelson . Xx

  38. stanley allen says:

    My nephew junor is one in a million love u forever

  39. Jason Angunoby says:

    Love and mis you mate. RIP Uncle Jason.

  40. David says:

    My cousin our nelson (true blue baby I love you) 😉 I love you cuz xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  41. Lyn says:

    I remember being in awe seeing nelson in jodies in 1994 he stopped me and i was lucky enough to have kissed him!! He was simply stunningly gorgeous he didnt deserve what happened to him ive never seen anyone with looks like he had He was special RIP Nelson Asu in the time that I knew you you made me feel special!! Was honoured to have met you!! God bless you gorgeous sexy boy xx

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