“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” Shereen Barrie, Evil Up Close: The Nightstalker - Delroy Grant
Delroy Easton Grant is born in Jamaica in 1957. At two years old his mother walks out on the family and leaves Grant in the care of his elderly grandparents. Considering that the streets of Jamaica may not the best place for a young boy to grow up, Grant’s father, a devout Christian, makes the decision to move to the UK. Grant arrives in Britain aged 15, and not long after this his criminal career begins.
Known at first for petty theft, he soon proceeds onto more serious offences including burglary, later spending time in jail for armed robbery. In 1975 he meets his first wife Janet Watson. Within two weeks they’re engaged. Janet believes she’s found her own prince charming, but after the wedding things take a dramatic turn for the worse. Janet discovers that Grant has an obsession with tidiness and being in control. She learns that knives and forks need to be in the correct drawer, and can’t have watermarks. If any are found she gets a beating.
Grant has a Jekyll and Hyde character. Out in public he knows the perfect way to behave and the right thing to say, but in his own home he’s the master, in control and his family must obey. The young couple have two children but after five years of abuse Janet leaves.
Grant moves to Leicester where he fathers another two children with his girlfriend. But in 1991 he’s sent to prison for handling stolen goods. Shortly after that the relationship ends and he heads back to South-East London. Its here he meets his second wife Jennifer Edwards. She’s a devoted Jehovah’s Witness and the community welcome him with open arms.
The couple move into a house in Brockley, South East London, where they raise 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, has to take care of her. He becomes a taxi driver by night and his wife’s carer by day. His neighbours admire the way he looks after her. He’s known as a pillar of the community, a good natured, always smiling, church-going family man. But unknown to them, beneath his devious exterior lays a sadistic, brutal rapist and burglar who by night targets the vulnerable elderly and subjects 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, BBC News Online, 25 March 2011
On 3 March 2011 Delroy Grant appears at Woolwich Crown Court to face 29 charges, ranging from rape, indecent assault and burglary, from 1992 to 2009. He denies all counts, having previously pleaded not guilty at his hearing held at the Old Bailey.
The jury hears that during Grant’s initial arrest he suggests to the police they have the wrong man and should be arresting his eldest son, from his first marriage. It’s clear that Grant has awareness of the number of breakthroughs in forensics and DNA. He’s hoping that his son will share the same DNA and instead be convicted for his crimes. The jury are told that Grant’s DNA proves a perfect match to the DNA samples found at the crime scenes.
Grant’s first wife, Janet Watson is put in the witness box to hear the shocking revelation that Grant believes he is being framed by her. He alleges that Janet stole semen and saliva from him in 1977 and that after the marriage ends his DNA is stored at a hospital by a male friend. He goes on to say that fifteen years later his wife, out of malice, gives the DNA to someone else, to frame Grant for a string of burglaries across South-East London. It’s a startling web of lies, because in the 70s the technique to recover DNA from semen and saliva hadn’t been invented. It shows the jury what a desperate man will do to avoid punishment. Paul Laidlaw QC prosecuting tells 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’s 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 hear that on the night of his arrest the police found in his Vauxhall Zafira, a crowbar, blue cagoule, fleece, torch, and woolly hat. These are all items linked to crimes carried out by the Nightstalker. To add to this, the police explain 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 is damning.On 24 March 2011 the jury find Grant guilty on all 29 charges. Police still believe he may have been responsible for another 600 attacks. Judge Peter Rook sentences Grant to 27 years in jail and gives him four life sentences.
"The next thing I knew was a hand covering my mouth and nose.” Victim, BBC News Online, 8 March 2011
The police are first alerted to Grant’s reign of terror, when in 1992 he breaks into a home in Shirley, Croydon. An 89-year-old woman is just settling down to sleep when a loud noise wakes her. Getting up, she heads to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. Once back in bed she suddenly sees Grant standing in her doorway. She asks “What are you doing here?”, but is told to be quiet.
He rapes her twice, causing horrific injuries; he also steals money, a watch and her jewellery. The ordeal is terrifying, and lasts for hours, but crucially his DNA evidence is left behind.
His next offence occurs in 1998. Six years have elapsed and this time he subjects an 81-year-old woman to burglary, indecent assault and attempted rape. Another DNA sample is left at the scene allowing the two crimes to be linked. The hunt is now on for a predatory rapist, attacking the elderly.In 1999 he strikes again in Beckenham, Coulsdon, Croydon, Kent and Orpington. He burgles six times, indecently assaults four times and rapes two elderly women. The burglaries and indecent assaults continue from 2002 to 2008. Many of his victims aged between their 70s and 80s, are blind, deaf or suffer from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. He shows them no mercy.
In 2009 he breaks in to a Polish man’s house in Croydon that he’s robbed before. However, this time the 88 year-old man hasn’t gone to bed yet. Grant’s sadistic side emerges once more and he sexually assaults him. It’s believed that the assault is carried out to embarrass the man into not calling the police. Sadly this is an effective method of silencing the elderly, as it’s believed Grant has committed over 200 offences. The police hope his recent spate of burglaries will end in his capture. The media name him The Nightstalker.
“I had been handed a poison chalice. . .” DCI Colin Sutton, Evil Up Close: Delroy Grant – The Nightstalker
It’s left to DCI Colin Sutton, who’s recently led the successful investigation to apprehend Levi Bellfield, to try and catch the perpetrator. Sutton decides that the DNA evidence is proving a red herring for the police. Taking charge, he changes tack and sets up a burglary squad. He’s discovered that in just one street in Croydon the Nightstalker has been his most prolific. Deciding that this is a significant area, he puts in a request for 150 officers and 18 cameras to observe this region. The request is declined but a compromise is reached. Sutton gets 70 officers. On their first night of observation the Nightstalker attacks three times. This is a major breakthrough, but unfortunately the attacks are just outside the areas being policed. However, CCTV cameras show a man fitting the description of the Nightstalker running to a vehicle. Painstakingly watching every frame, experts pick out a silver Vauxhall Zafira as the car potentially owned by the Nightstalker. The net starts to close in. Seventeen days later on 15 November 2009, a member of the surveillance team notices a similar Vauxhall Zafira in the neighbourhood. Realising it’s not a local car, suspicion is raised. An hour later a man is spotted running to the same car. The police spring into action and moments later, at around 2am, the Nightstalker is arrested. There are 203 confirmed cases now linked to this prolific sex attacker.
“In his own mind – he was doing them a favour” David Holmes – Criminal Psychologist, Evil Up Close: The Nightstalker - Delroy Grant
Operation Minstead is set up in 1998 and is the largest and most controversial investigation that Britain has ever seen. DNA evidence found in 1992, matches with DNA evidence found at a crime in 1998, but disappointingly, no link is found on the DNA National Database.
In 2001 Detective Superintendent Simon Morgan takes charge. There are already 73 cases linked to the Nightstalker. Looking through the case notes he realises that the perpetrator has a distinctive method. From flattened grass found in the victims’ gardens, police can see that the Nightstalker is prepared to wait for hours until he knows for certain that the victim has gone to bed. He’ll 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 enters. He’ll then target the electricity supply, by switching it off at the mains. Once in the home he’ll cut telephone wires to ensure no-one can call for help, and unscrews light bulbs around the house. More recently, he’s adapted his technique to hide mobile phones above cupboards, which he knows the elderly will struggle to find. He’ll then make his way to his victim’s bedroom ensuring any light bulbs are unscrewed and panic alarms disabled. Shining a bright torch in his victims face he’ll demand sex. His face disguised by a black balaclava.
The brutality of his attacks on the elderly leaves the police with little to go on. Most are so traumatised; they are unable to recall any details. It’s left to behavioural profilers to help shed some light. They detect he must have worked with the elderly at some point, as he uses similar techniques when lifting and moving his victims. They also work out that he must work at night as his comings and goings aren’t arousing suspicion. In nearly every case the police are astounded at just how clean and tidy he is. It’s believed the person they’re hunting must have an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
In order to move forward with the case, the police decide to use a pioneering new technique called Ancestral DNA profiling. It proves the man they’re looking for comes from the Caribbean. This allows them to reduce their number of suspects by several thousand.
In 2007 the police see the Nightstalker’s pattern of behaviour changing. He’s become more focused on stealing money. More importantly his careful planning is beginning to falter, and mistakes are 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