Delroy Easton Grant – Night Stalker Rapist

Delroy Easton Grant
Delroy Easton Grant

Delroy Easton Grant is a convicted rapist accused of carrying out a series of offences of burglary, rape and sexual assault dating between October 1992 and May 2009 in the South East London area of England. Grant, also known as the Minstead Rapist and latterly the Night Stalker, is thought to have been active since 1990, and has a distinctive modus operandi, preying on elderly women who live alone. He is suspected of over 100 offences from 1990 to 2009. In 1998, the Metropolitan Police launched the dedicated Operation Minstead team to investigate the crimes, based out of Lewisham police station. (The name does not directly refer to the village of Minstead, Hampshire; rather it was chosen from an alphabetical list of English villages, the method of operational naming in use at the time). As of 2009, the operation was the largest and most complex rape investigation ever undertaken by the Metropolitan Police.

On 24 March 2011, the Jamaican-born Grant, a father of eight from Brockley who was a carer for his disabled wife, was found guilty on all counts. The following day he was given four life sentences and ordered to serve a minimum of 27 years in prison.

Emergence of a linked series

Grant is an accomplished burglar and has broken into the homes of over 90 elderly women aged between 68 and 93.[8] He is positively linked to four reported rapes and around 30 other sexual assaults. Police believe he is also responsible for at least another two rapes where the victims felt unable to make any official allegation. The true total may be higher as his victims are often too traumatised to speak to police. In addition, the Operation Minstead investigation team have to decide which incidents are unmistakably the work of the same offender and which are similar but possibly unrelated. Therefore many possible Minstead incidents flagged up by police for the attention of the Operation Minstead team cannot be definitely confirmed as the work of the same offender so must be excluded from the linked series. The confirmed series of offences began in October 1992 in the Shirley area of Croydon. However due to a break of four years between this first attack and a spate of others, Operation Minstead was not set up until 1998.

Although committing many crimes, Grant was dormant for long periods. After the first attack in October 1992, no further offences were reported until 1997. After a particularly violent rape on 5 August 1999 where his victim almost died from her injuries, there was another long break. This prompted some media speculation that the rapist had been imprisoned for an unrelated offence or that he had died. However on 13 October 2002, ten years after the first attack, he struck again. Seven confirmed attacks took place in the summer of 2003. Another break then followed.

A further series of confirmed attacks took place towards the end of 2008, and into mid-2009.

Detective Superintendent Simon Morgan who headed the Minstead team from 2001 to October 2009, explained the problems in arriving at a definitive total of offences in this series by saying “His victims come from a generation who are inclined to see good in everyone. One thanked him for being gentle when he raped her”. Another said she didn’t want to dial 999 “because I know the police are already so busy”.

Geographical spread

The offences occurred in defined geographical clusters in and around South East London. Most of the offences occurred around Shirley in Croydon, and also Orpington. However he also struck in Coulsdon, Forest Hill, Catford, Brockley, Bromley, Beckenham, Dulwich and Sidcup. Only once was there a report of his offending outside Greater London. This was in Warlingham, Surrey.

The fact that many offences have taken place in Orpington, including one on Boxing Day in 1998, led detectives to suspect the rapist had a link to the area. Det Supt Morgan has said “He either lives, works or has some connection with someone he visits in Orpington. This could be a child, a school or a job”. On three occasions, he made remarks about having to get to Brighton.

Victimology

Grant usually singled out lone elderly women as victims, though there is a handful of confirmed cases where his victims had been lone elderly males, all of the confirmed victims were White. It is thought that he was meticulous in planning his crimes. He may have placed his potential victims under surveillance for some time since he has never broken into a house occupied by anyone but a lone elderly occupant. He once targeted three houses in a single street. He picked detached or semi-detached houses and bungalows but never flats.

Modus operandi

Grant gained entry to the homes of his victims from the side or the rear, either through open windows or by removing a window pane entirely. He had been known to use tools stolen from the victim’s own garden shed to remove the window beading. He ripped out the telephone wires, either before entering the property, or after gaining access. He then disabled the lights either by switching off the electricity at the meter or by unscrewing lightbulbs from their sockets.

He then approached his victim, shining a torch in her eyes. Often his first words were to demand sex. However, he had been known to spend hours in victims’ homes either before or without assaulting them. He had been described perversely as exhibiting tenderness, sometimes gently kissing his victims on the cheek. He had exhibited a knowledge of geriatrics, knowing how to support his elderly victim’s spine and how to pick them up from the elbow. He had sometimes been shamed into leaving without committing a sexual assault when his victim has chastised him. Of particular note is an incident where one victim caused him to apologise and leave by angrily demanding “What would your mother think of you?” He has been known to take a victim’s pulse, and has said: “I’m really sorry. I won’t do this again.” Police have speculated that the rapist is ashamed of his actions, perhaps explaining the long period that sometimes occurs between offences. Despite this, he could be extremely violent. During his most violent attack on 5 August 1999, he raped his victim twice and left her bleeding from a perforated bowel, in which her injuries were nearly fatal.

He had been known to burgle his victims but this was not his primary motive. He often took money but only small amounts. He has taken credit cards and obtained their PINs from his victims but there has never been any record of him using them. In 2004 he stole a wad of five pound notes but these were later discovered thrown away a mile and a half from his victim’s house. He had also taken jewellery. The same year he told a victim that his mother had died four years earlier, stating that “the Government let her down anyway”.

He has struck on all days of the week but most often during the early hours of a Friday or Saturday morning.

Detectives strongly believed that he rode a motorbike.

Suspect description

Descriptions from his many victims suggested a black male aged between 25 and 40. He was described as about 5’9″ to 5’11” tall, of slim athletic build and tends to wear dark clothing. He was described as usually wearing gloves, a mask or balaclava, and occasionally a baseball cap. He was described as having a soft or well-spoken voice. Some of his victims reported a curious sweet smell.

DNA controversy

The Minstead Rapist was thought to be forensically aware since he never left a fingerprint at any scene. However, an offence committed on 13 October 2002 left behind a vital clue – a footprint from a size 10 Nike Air Terra Contego trainer. Most importantly he did not use condoms and his DNA was captured. The first time his DNA was discovered at a scene was in 1992. Since then, more than 2,000 DNA samples have been collected from suspects.

Britain’s national police DNA database contains samples from anyone arrested for a recordable offence since 1995. Even by the time of his first offence, the Minstead Rapist was clearly an accomplished burglar. However his DNA remained unmatched and unidentified on the database. If the rapist had ever been arrested for burglary or a related offence, it must have been before 1995 when police began routinely to gather DNA samples from prisoners.

Advanced DNA techniques pointed towards a north Afro-Caribbean ethnic origin for the rapist; probably the Windward Islands – St Lucia, Barbados, St Vincent, the Grenadines, Tobago or Trinidad. Operation Minstead identified around 21,000 possible suspects that fitted such a profile. Their progress in this expedition was reported in a piece entitled “The Frying Squad”.

In March 2004, Operation Minstead detectives hand-delivered a letter to hundreds of black men in South London, asking for their help in voluntarily providing a DNA sample for elimination purposes. Police explained that they desperately needed to reduce the vast number of suspects in the operation and that this was the best way to do so. Volunteers were assured that their DNA sample would be destroyed as soon as it was confirmed to be unmatched with the rapist’s DNA. The majority of those potential suspects were eager to help if it would assist police in catching the suspect. However 125 men initially refused to provide a sample, believing it was discriminatory and breached their human rights. Police brought pressure to bear on those who refused, explaining that their behaviour could be construed as suspicious. Five objectors were subsequently arrested but cleared. This incident was seen by some commentators, particularly The Voice newspaper and Liberty, as an abuse of power that damaged relations between London’s black community and the police. A Liberal Democrat MP, Lynne Featherstone, questioned police tactics in the House of Commons. Although they were able to reduce the list of potential suspects from 21,000 to 1,000, police resigned themselves to only being able to obtain the DNA of certain suspects still on the list if and when they were arrested for an unrelated offence.

2009 arrest

Having been appointed Senior Investigating Officer in October 2009, DCI Colin Sutton, the officer who led the investigation into the serial killer Levi Bellfield, organised and set up a proactive operation mounted to try to observe the suspect in the act of committing an offence. On 15 November 2009 it was reported a 52-year-old man had been arrested in connection with over 100 sexual offences in the South London area. Detectives described the arrest as “significant”.

On 16 November 2009, it was reported Delroy Grant of Brockley Mews, Brockley, South East London, had been arrested and charged with twenty-two offences, and appeared at Greenwich Magistrates Court. He was remanded in custody to re-appear at the court on 19 November.

On 19 November 2009, Delroy Grant appeared at Greenwich Magistrates Court, where he was ordered to appear at Woolwich Crown Court on Thursday 26 November. Prosecutors said that further charges were likely. He was remanded in custody.

On 26 November 2009, Delroy Grant Appeared at Woolwich Crown Court. Grant was remanded in custody, next due to appear at the Old Bailey for a plea and case management hearing on 8 February 2010.

On 8 February 2010, he was remanded in custody and was next due to appear at Inner London Crown Court on 30 April 2010.

On 21 June 2010, Delroy Grant, 52, of Brockley Mews, Honor Oak, south-east London, pleaded not guilty at the Old Bailey. Mr Justice Bean said the trial would take place on 1 March 2011, at Woolwich Crown Court; it was thought the trial would take up to six weeks.

The charges were as follows:

  1. Rape – on 12/10/92 at Shirley, on an 89-year-old woman

  2. Rape – on 5/9/98 at Warlingham, Surrey, on an 81-year-old woman

  3. Rape – on 28/7/99 at Addiscombe, on an 82-year-old woman

  4. Rape – on 5/8/99 at Orpington, on an 88-year-old woman

  5. Indecent assault – on 20/6/99 at Beckenham of a 71-year-old woman

  6. Indecent assault – on 12/7/99 at Addiscombe of an 82-year-old woman

  7. Indecent assault – on 4/8/99 at Shirley on an 88-year-old woman

  8. Indecent assault – on 13/10/02 at Shirley on a 77-year-old woman

  9. Burglary (no violence) – on 25/5/09 at Shortlands, Bromley

  10. Burglary (theft/attempted theft with violence) – on 12/10/92 at Shirley

  11. Burglary with intent to rape – on 5/9/98 at Warlingham, Surrey

  12. Indecent assault – on 5/9/98 at Warlingham, Surrey, of an 81-year-old woman

  13. Burglary (theft/attempted theft with violence) – on 12/7/99 at Addiscombe

  14. Burglary (theft/attempted theft with violence) – on 28/7/99 at Addiscombe

  15. Indecent assault – on 28/7/99 at Addiscombe, of an 82-year-old woman

  16. Burglary (theft/attempted theft with violence) – on 4/8/99 at Shirley

  17. Burglary (theft/attempted theft with violence) – on 5/8/99 at Orpington

  18. Rape – on 5/8/99 at Orpington, on an 88-year-old woman

  19. Burglary (theft/attempted theft with violence) – on 13/10/02 at Shirley

  20. Burglary (theft/attempted theft with violence) – on 7/3/03 at West Dulwich

  21. Burglary (theft/attempted theft with violence) – on 7/9/04 at Bromley

  22. Burglary (theft/attempted theft with violence) – on 20/6/99 at Beckenham

According to newspaper reports the suspect was seen by cash machine CCTV cameras using his victims’ credit and debit cards, but appeared useless as his face was always covered by a mask. One eagle-eyed police officer was reported to have spotted in some of the footage the reflection of a bus in a shop window. The bus was tracked down and was found to be fitted with cameras. Police trawled through the CCTV footage recorded by the bus. On the recording a Vauxhall Zafira was spotted near the cash machine and vehicle records pinpointed all models in the South London area. However, this is a gross distortion of the truth; in fact the officers taking part in the observations had identified a Zafira as a suspected vehicle some two weeks previously, and thus were particularly alert to such a car being in the area of their operation.

Then on Sunday evening (15 November) a Zafira was spotted parked in the Shirley area of Croydon, which was already being staked out by 70 police officers following recent break-ins believe to have been carried out by the Night Stalker.

Delroy Grant was arrested as he approached his car having just attempted to enter a nearby pensioner’s house.

On 24 March 2011 Grant was found guilty of all offences charged. He was sentenced to concurrent life sentences with a recommendation that he should serve 27 years before being eligible to apply for parole.

Investigation timeline

  • 1990: Police say there are probable offences as far back as 1990.

  • 1992 – October: First offence linked to the Minstead Rapist is committed in Shirley, Croydon.

  • 1997: A second offence by the Minstead Rapist is reported, beginning a more frequent series of attacks.

  • 1998: Operation Minstead launched.

  • 1999 – 5 August: Most serious crime linked to the Minstead Rapist to date, leaves the victim fighting for life.

  • 2003 – 5 December: The SCD launches an appeal to all Metropolitan Police officers for assistance to catch the Minstead Rapist.

  • 2004 – March: Police carry out DNA testing of possible suspects in South London.

  • 2004 – July: Detectives announce they have narrowed the initial list of 21,000 potential suspects to 1,000.

  • 2006 – 10 October: Metropolitan Police officers issue a direct appeal to the rapist to give himself up, encouraging him to use his “conscience” and “come forward” to seek help for his behaviour.

  • 2007 – 15 November: A burglary in South Norwood, London is linked to the Minstead Man. The victim was a 93 year-old woman and the incident took place in the early hours of Thursday, 15 November.

  • 2009 – June: A string of burglaries on the elderly were linked to a light-skinned black man, suspected of being the Night Stalker.

  • 2009 – July: The most recent incident linked to the Night Stalker occurred in Selsdon, South Croydon on the morning of 23 July 9.

  • 2009 – 15 November: Police arrest a 52-year-old man in connection with more than 100 sex attacks. The arrest was described as “significant”.

  • 2009 – 16 November ~3am: Police charge a 52-year-old man with multiple rapes.

  • 2011 – 1 March: Delroy Grant appears at Woolwich Crown Court as his trial begins.

  • 2011 – 24 March: Grant found guilty on all counts.

  • 2011 – 25 March: Grant is jailed for 27 years.

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