The Night Stalker

BY SIMON ALFORD

Delroy Grant led a triple life as the devoted and religious husband, a charming womaniser and as ‘The Night Stalker’ – the rapist who lusted after the elderly.

Over 17 years he carried out some of the most disturbing offences in British criminal history against the most vulnerable victims in society.

The actual number of attacks he carried out may never be known, but it is certainly over 500.

Yet as he carried out his crimes, Grant was a full-time carer for his disabled wife Jennifer, who is crippled by aggressive multiple sclerosis.

He was a cannabis-smoking Jehovah’s Witness, who married twice and fathered eight children and took on two step-children.

Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton said: ‘People say he was a charmer, a nice guy, a regular bloke.

SURPRISE

‘There was a lot of surprise when he was arrested. People just wouldn’t have thought that Delroy Grant was the Night Stalker.’

It is thought that his taste for gerontophilia – sexual attraction to the elderly – stems from a sexual encounter with an older person when he was a young boy.

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Grant on the prowl

Grant was born in Jamaica and came to the UK in 1972 as a 15 year-old to live with his father. He went to Kingsdale school, near Crystal Palace, but left with few if any qualifications.

His father who had arrived in the UK several years earlier worked for British Rail and his step-mother was a factory worker.

Describing his home life, he said: ‘Life was all right but I found my parents quite restrictive. They were good parents but very strict. That is the way we were brought up in Jamaica so I accepted it, but it was strict.’

Grant married his first wife Janet Watson in 1974.

She claimed that he turned from soulmate to partner from hell within weeks.

MEETING IN A PUB

The couple met in a pub in Bermondsey, south London, and she described him as a ‘charmer’ and her ‘Prince Charming’.

They had their first date the following night and he moved in with her the next week.

They married in October, within three months of meeting, but the relationship soured quickly.

Now 53, she was only 17 when she met Grant.

The relationship was described as ’emotionally and physically very painful’.

‘He was really nice, fantastic. He was a charmer.

‘He was very softly spoken and really nice,’ she said.

In her police statement she said ‘we just seemed to click’.

‘I was very happy,’ she said.

 

Grant desperately accuses his former partner of fitting him up 

PRINCE CHARMING

‘To me I found my Prince Charming and that made it even better.’

Mrs Watson said the relationship ‘turned well sour’ very quickly.

She said Grant was violent and a womaniser.

‘He made it quite obvious it wasn’t going to be a nice time staying with him,’ she said.

‘It was very painful.’

Despite their problems the couple had two sons, Delroy Junior and Michael, before they split in 1979 and Mrs Watson filed for divorce.

Delroy Junior was born in February 1976 and second son Michael was born in October 1978, shortly before the couple split.

She filed for divorce while Grant was in prison, serving a sentence for attempted robbery.

BUILDER’S YARD

He was arrested while working at the Hall and Co builders’ yard in East Dulwich.

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Rapist’s kit in the back of Grant’s Vauxhall

Mrs Watson saw Grant only once more in the next 30 years, before seeing him in the dock at his trial when she was called to defend herself over allegations she framed him

‘I didn’t want to see him or hear him or know he was alive,’ she said.

When he met Mrs Watson he was involved with a reggae sound system known as Sir Cosmic Sound and would regularly spend nights at the Bouncing Ball club in Peckham High Street.

It was there he met a woman called Glendene, who lived in Battersea, and embarked on an affair.

‘I liked to play music, I liked to go out to nightclubs and so on,’ he said.

Behind Mrs Watson’s back he had relationships with at least two women.

He met his current wife Jennifer Edwards, while he was also seeing another woman to whom he fathered three boys. He married Jennifer in January 1991.

The couple lived at their home in a quiet cul-de-sac in Brockley, southeast London.

He worked as a building site manager and then a minicab driver between 2003 and 2006 before quitting to become his wife’s full-time carer.

Since 2003 he had also cheated on his wife with a woman called Barbara Stock, who he had met while mini-cabbing in Crystal Palace.

SIX SEXUAL PARTNERS

In court Grant claimed to have only had six sexual partners ‘or thereabouts’.

It may be that the frustration he felt at his wife’s illness led to the start of his offending in 1992.

There appear to have been several lulls in his attacks, between 1993 and 1996, 1999 and 2002, and 2004 to mid 2008.

Grant targeted the homes across southeast London from Coulsdon, Forest Hill and Herne Hill to Bromley, Sidcup and Orpington.

It is not known how he selected his victims but he clearly carried out research on the premises he burgled – mostly 1930s built houses and bungalows rather than flats.

They were predominantly women but Grant also attacked lone men.

His method involved gaining entry from the side or the rear, either through open windows, by removing a window pane or using a crowbar.

Grant then ripped out telephone wires and disabled the lights, switching off the electricity or unscrewing lightbulbs.

THE SHINING TORCH

Victims have told how he shone a torch in their eyes and demanded sex.

In some cases he was violent as he forced himself on his hapless victims. One woman, an 88-year-old, needed emergency surgery after suffering terrible injuries at his hands

Others have said he spent hours in their homes, often showing tenderness or kissing them on the cheek.

One described him as ‘considerate’, another told how he helped her to a chair and then back to bed while he was in her home.

Another described how he shook her by the hand before leaving.

In one case a woman chastised him by asking: ‘What would your mother think of you?’ – to which he responded: ‘I’m really sorry. I won’t do this again.’

But all described him as speaking in a whisper or being very softly spoken.

Although many of his attacks were burglaries, he often only managed to steal small amounts of money or their credit cards.

 

Grant’s rapist kit in the back of his Vauxhall 

WOOLEN GLOVES

It is also thought he used latex or woollen gloves so as not to leave fingerprints behind even though he appears not to have cared about leaving his DNA.

In the year before his arrest he escalated his attacks, perhaps conscious that the net was closing in.

But Grant has so far remained silent about his crimes and his motives.

In the dock he asked prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw: ‘For what reason would I want to rape old women.’

The barrister replied: ‘That, if I may say so, is a very a good question.’

When he was arrested he displayed the confidence he had shown with women, with the police officers who were ready to charge him.

As he was fingerprinted, he told one detective: ‘I don’t know why you’re bothering I always wear gloves.’

Grant claimed 146 out of his 203 victims after police blew a major chance to catch him over ten years ago.

THE WRONG MAN

Detectives were given the name Delroy Grant twice during the £10 million inquiry – but each time eliminated the wrong man.

As a result three more elderly women were raped, 20 further victims were sexually assaulted and another 123 were burgled.

The Metropolitan Police now await the results of an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Confronted about the failures, Commander Foy refused to give full details but said: ‘The Met need now to apologise for this missed opportunity that led to his continued offending.

‘We are deeply sorry for the harm suffered by his other victims and the failure to bring Delroy Grant to justice earlier.’

The first missed opportunity came after the Night Stalker carried out a burglary in Orpington, Kent, on May 28, 1999.

It has been reported that a member of the public noticed a man behaving suspiciously and noted down the registration of a vehicle which led to the name ‘Delroy Grant.’

But somehow officers were sent to take a DNA sample from a different Delroy Grant who was nine years younger and lived in Dulwich, south London.

As a result, the name – which was listed at around 150 out of a final total of 26,500 ‘people of interest’ – was wrongly eliminated.

Asked if his officers had ever spoken to the right Delroy grant, Commander Simon Foy categorically replied: ‘No.’

OPPORTUNITY

He said: ‘There was an opportunity to have identified and apprehended Delroy Grant but that opportunity was missed.

‘When this came to light after his arrest we referred this matter to the IPCC.’

Commander Foy added: ‘The wrong person was eliminated at that time.’

Two years later the name Delroy Grant was again brought to the attention of the Operation Minstead team without result.

Following a Crimewatch appeal based on an efit of the suspect in 2001, a member of the public rang Crimestoppers.

The caller gave the name ‘Delroy Grant’ and another name and claimed they had been in a children’s home together in Bromley.

Detectives managed to trace the home but it had been destroyed in a fire and all records had been lost.

The Night Stalker’s father has since confirmed that Delroy Grant was never in a children’s home.

Det Supt Simon Morgan said: ‘Looking at the circumstances that information is completely incorrect.’

LEAD GOES NO FURTHER

As police had already eliminated the wrong man, the lead went no further.

The correct Delroy Grant was never spoken to or asked for his DNA. And because his last conviction came in 1991 his DNA was never put on to the system.

DCI Chris Sutton said: ‘Had it come on to the database the amount of checking that we did with DNA meant that we would have been alerted to him.’

Police took 3,000 samples from black males across southeast London but the list of potential suspects was in the tens of thousands.

They also turned to a company in Florida to narrow down their search to a specific ethnic group.

In the event the scientists could only say that the Night Stalker’s ancestors were part of the influx of the slave trade to the Windward Islands in the Caribbean.

The inquiry was also riddled with red herrings, based on bits of information gleaned from victims.

One suggestion that the Night Stalker rode a motorbike, which led to police issuing of a mock-up of their suspect, turned out to be completely untrue.

Grant also turned out to be ten years older than thought.

Police were also unaware of his most obvious phyical feature – both his front teeth were missing.

His ability to apparently stop offending for long periods of time also frustrated the operation and led to resources being sent elsewhere.

THE NIGHT STALKER RETURNS

But from May 2008 the Night Stalker returned with a vengeance and over the next 16 months almost doubled the total number of known crimes.

The Night Stalker was finally seen on camera in August 2009 after burgling an 88 year-old Polish man in Thornton Heath.

He used the victim’s cashcard at an ATM in Houston Road near Honour Oak and Forest Hill at 3.32am on August 13, but had been given the wrong PIN.

Following another burglary of an elderly woman on October 18, 2009, he used the same ATM.

The footage revealed a black man in white trainers, dark trousers, dark blue anorak, scarf and woolly hat who was careful to shield his face from the camera. He may also have been wearing latex gloves.

But police still did not know how he travelled across London looking for victims.

Despite the failure of similar operations in the past, it was decided to launch large-scale surveillance of a specific area in south London.

Shirley in south London, one of the Night Stalker’s favourite areas – was chosen for the operation beginning on October 28, 2009.

Seventy officers were placed on the ground watching target premises in the hope of catching him in the act.

The next day the Night Stalker committed three offences outside their area – two a mile north, just off the A214, followed by a third just one street east, just off the A232.

Detectives deduced he must have travelled along Orchard Way and Orchard Avenue to go between the two locations and tracked down CCTV footage from the time in question.

The result was a blurred image of a grey or silver car visible over the top of a hedge.

No number plate was visible but within two days a car expert had identified it as a late model Vauxhall Zafira.

While police began the painstaking task of tracking down every single grey or silver Zafira, the surveillance operation continued.

After two weeks of quiet, on November 11 an officer keeping observations in a road just off the A232 noticed a Vauxhall Zafira had parked on the street at 10.30pm.

He made a note and continued his watch.

At about midnight he saw Delroy Grant running towards the car, getting in and driving off.

The vehicle – which had been given to Grant’s wife Jennifer as part of the subsidised motability scheme – was followed to Wickham Road before being stopped.

When the car was searched officers found the Night Stalker’s rape kit – a grey balaclava in the glove compartment, a blue cagoule in the passenger seat and a grey fleece and crowbar in the boot. The search was over.

Grant was given four life sentences with a minimum term of 27 years ‘to reflect the public abhorrence’ of his offending.

UTTER DEPRAVITY

Judge Peter Rook QC told him: ‘Your utter depravity knows no bounds.’

You will only be released if the parole board considers it safe to do so. I have no doubt you are a very dangerous man capable of committing heinous crimes and causing incalculable harm to people.

‘It is a matter for the parole board if you will ever be released. It may be that you will never be released.

He added: ‘Your offending is in a league of its own.’

Grant was convicted of three rapes, one attempted rape, six indecent assaults, one sexual assault, 16 burglaries and two attempted burglaries between 1992 and 2009.

 

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