“If you asked me who the Nightstalker was I couldn’t tell you, but I could tell you who it wasn’t and it wasn’t Delroy Grant”
Delroy Easton Grant was born in Jamaica in 1957. At two-years-old his mother walked out on the family and left Grant in the care of his elderly grandparents. Grant’s father, a devout Christian, made the decision to move to the UK. Grant arrived in Britain aged 15, and not long after this his criminal career began.
Known at first for petty theft, he soon proceeded onto more serious offences including burglary, later spending time in jail for armed robbery. In 1975 he met his first wife Janet Watson. Within two weeks they were engaged. Janet believed she’d found her own prince charming, but after the wedding things took a dramatic turn for the worse. Janet discovered that Grant had an obsession with tidiness and being in control. She learnt that knives and forks need to be in the correct drawer, and couldn't have watermarks. If any were found she got a beating.
Grant had a Jekyll and Hyde character. Out in public he knew the perfect way to behave and the right things to say, but in his own home he was the master, in control and his family must obey. The young couple had two children but after five years of abuse Janet left.
Grant moved to Leicester where he fathers another two children with a new girlfriend. But in 1991 he was sent to prison for handling stolen goods. Shortly after that the relationship ended and he headed back to South East London. It's there he met his second wife Jennifer Edwards. She’s a devoted Jehovah’s Witness and the community welcomed him with open arms.
The couple moved into a house in Brockley, South East London, where they raised their two boys and Jennifer’s two girls from a previous marriage. When Jennifer is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Grant, a former assistant in a care home, had to take care of her. He became a taxi driver by night and his wife’s carer by day.
His neighbours admired the way he looks after her. He was known as a pillar of the community, a good natured, always smiling, church-going family man. But unknown to them, beneath his devious exterior lay a sadistic, brutal rapist and burglar who targeted the vulnerable elderly and subjected them to the most horrific attacks.
"I have no doubt that you are a very evil man capable of committing heinous crimes." Judge Peter Rook
On 3rd March 2011, Delroy Grant appeared at Woolwich Crown Court to face 29 charges, ranging from rape, indecent assault and burglary, from 1992 to 2009. He denied all counts, having previously pleaded not guilty at his hearing held at the Old Bailey.
The jury heard that during Grant’s initial arrest he suggested to the police they have the wrong man and should be arresting his eldest son, from his first marriage. It was clear that Grant had awareness of the number of breakthroughs in forensics and DNA. He was hoping that his son would share the same DNA and instead be convicted for his crimes. The jury were told that Grant’s DNA proves a perfect match to the DNA samples found at the crime scenes.
Grant’s first wife, Janet Watson, was put in the witness box to hear the shocking revelation that Grant believed he was being framed by her. He alleged that Janet stole semen and saliva from him in 1977 and that after the marriage ended his DNA was stored at a hospital by a male friend. He went on to say that fifteen years later his wife, out of malice, gave the DNA to someone else, to frame Grant for a string of burglaries across South-East London.
It was a startling web of lies, because in the 70s the technique to recover DNA from semen and saliva hadn’t been invented. It showed the jury what a desperate man would do to avoid punishment. Paul Laidlaw QC prosecuting told Grant that “we are already beginning to see that your account falls apart when it is subjected to the most gentle of examinations".
While his fingerprints were being taken in the police station it was revealed in court that he arrogantly remarked, “I don't know why you're bothering, I always wear gloves". He took such lengths to avoid detection during his 17-year crime spree, that not one of his fingerprints was ever detected.
The jury heard that on the night of his arrest the police found in his Vauxhall Zafira, a crowbar, blue cagoule, fleece, torch, and woolly hat. These were all items linked to crimes carried out by the Night Stalker. To add to this, the police explained that he was wearing a burglar’s kit of two pairs of jeans, two pairs of boxer shorts, three T-shirts and shoes but no socks. This would have allowed him to change appearances quickly, vital in helping him hide his tracks on CCTV footage.
The evidence was damning. On 24th March 2011, the jury found Grant guilty on all 29 charges. Police still believed he may have been responsible for another 600 attacks. Judge Peter Rook sentenced Grant to 27 years in jail and gave him four life sentences.
"The next thing I knew was a hand covering my mouth and nose.”
The police were first alerted to Grant’s reign of terror, when in 1992 he broke into a Croydon home. An 89-year-old woman was settling down to sleep when a loud noise woke her. She headed to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. Once back in bed she suddenly saw Grant standing in her doorway.
He raped her twice, causing horrific injuries; he also stole money, a watch and her jewellery. The ordeal was terrifying, and lasted for hours, but crucially his DNA evidence is left behind.
His next offence occurred cured in 1998. Six years had elapsed and this time he subjected an 81-year-old woman to burglary, indecent assault and attempted rape. Another DNA sample was left at the scene allowing the two crimes to be linked. The hunt was on for a predatory rapist, attacking the elderly.
In 1999 he struck again in Beckenham, Coulsdon, Croydon, Kent and Orpington. He burgled six times, indecently assaulted four times and raped two elderly women. The burglaries and indecent assaults continued from 2002 to 2008. Many of his victims aged between their 70s and 80s, were blind, deaf or suffered from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
In 2009 he broke in to a Polish man’s house in Croydon that he’d robbed before. However, that time the 88 year-old man hadn’t gone to bed yet. Grant’s sadistic side emerged once more and he sexually assaulted him. It’s believed that the assault was carried out to embarrass the man into not calling the police. Sadly this was an effective method of silencing the elderly, as it’s believed Grant had committed over 200 offences.
The police hoped this recent spate of burglaries would end in his capture. The media named him the Night Stalker.
“I had been handed a poison chalice. . .” DCI Colin Sutton
Sutton decided that the DNA evidence was proving a red herring for the police. He changed tack and set up a burglary squad. He discovered that in just one street in Croydon the Night Stalker had been his most prolific. Deciding that this is a significant area, he put in a request for 150 officers and 18 cameras to observe this region. The request was declined but a compromise was reached. Sutton got 70 officers.
On the first night of observation, the Night Stalker attacked three times. This was a major breakthrough, but unfortunately the attacks were just outside the areas being policed. However, CCTV cameras showed a man fitting the description running to a vehicle. Experts picked out a silver Vauxhall Zafira as the car potentially owned by the Night Stalker.
Seventeen days later, a member of the surveillance team noticed a similar Vauxhall Zafira in the neighbourhood. An hour later a man was spotted running to the same car. The police sprung into action and moments later, at around 2am, the Night Stalker was arrested. There were 203 confirmed cases now linked to this prolific sex attacker.
“In his own mind – he was doing them a favour” David Holmes – Criminal Psychologist
Operation Minstead was set up in 1998 and was the largest and most controversial investigation that Britain had ever seen. DNA evidence found in 1992, matched with DNA evidence found at a crime in 1998, but disappointingly, no link was found on the DNA National Database.
In 2001 Detective Superintendent Simon Morgan took charge. There were already 73 cases linked to the Night Stalker. Looking through the case notes he realised that the perpetrator had a distinctive method. From flattened grass found in the victims’ gardens, police could see that the Night Stalker was prepared to wait for hours until he knew for certain that the victim had gone to bed.
He’d attack by carefully and quietly removing the whole window in one piece to gain entry, moving any ornaments away from window sills to avoid making noise as he entered. He’d switch off the electricity supply at the mains, cut telephone wires and unscrewed light bulbs around the house. He also mobile phones above cupboards, making them harder to find.
The brutality of his attacks on the elderly left the police with little to go on. Most victims were so traumatised; they were unable to recall any details. It was left to behavioural profilers to help shine some light. They detected that he must have worked with the elderly at some point, as he used similar techniques when lifting and moving his victims. They also worked out that he must have worked at night as his comings and goings didn't arouse suspicion. In nearly every case the police were astounded at just how clean and tidy he was. It was believed the person they were hunting must have had an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
In order to move forward with the case, the police decided to use a pioneering new technique called Ancestral DNA profiling. It proved the man they were looking was of Caribbean descent, allowing them them to reduce their number of suspects by several thousand.
In 2007 the police saw the Night Stalker’s pattern of behaviour changing. He became more focused on stealing money. More importantly his careful planning was beginning to falter, and mistakes were being made.
- October 1992 - An 89-year-old woman is raped twice and burgled in Shirley, Croydon
- September 1998 – An 81-year-old woman suffers attempted rape, indecent assault and burglary at her home in Warlingham, Surrey
- June 1999 – A 71-year-old woman is burgled at her home in Beckenham, Kent
- July 1999 - Attempted burglary at home of a 77-year-old woman in Orpington, Kent
- July 1999 – An 83-year-old male is indecently assaulted and burgled at his home in Coulsdon, Surrey
- July 1999 - An 82-year-old woman is indecently assaulted and burgled at her home in Croydon, Surrey
- July 1999 - An 82-year-old woman is raped and burgled at her home in Croydon, Surrey
- August 1999 - An 88-year-old woman is indecently assaulted and burgled
- August 1999 - An 88-year-old woman, is raped, indecently assaulted and burgled at her home in Orpington, Kent
- October 2002 - An 77-year-old woman is indecently assaulted and burgled at her home in Croydon, Surrey
- March 2003 - A 78-year-old woman is burgled at her home in West Dulwich, London
- September 2004 - An 84-year-old woman is burgled at her home in Bromley, Kent
- May 2009 - A 62-year-old man is burgled at his home in Bromley, Kent
- June 2009 - An 82-year-old woman is burgled at her home in South Croydon
- August 2009 - An 88-year-old man is indecently assaulted and burgled at his home in Thornton Heath, Surrey
- October 2009 - An 87-year-old woman is burgled at her home in Forest Hill, London
- October 2009 - An 82-year-old woman is burgled at her home in Croydon
- November 2009 - Attempted burglary at home of 86-year-old woman in Croydon
- 21 June 2010 – Delroy Grant pleads not guilty to 29 offences (including 3 rapes, 1 attempted rape and 7 indecent assaults)
- 24 March 2011 – Grant is found guilty given four life sentences. He will serve at least 27 years in prison