Night Stalker rapist Delroy Grant jailed for 27 years

Delroy Grant denied 29 charges including rape and sexual assault
Image caption The judge told Grant he had left a "trail of distress, fear and misery"

Night Stalker Delroy Grant, who carried out a series of sex attacks on elderly people over a period of 17 years, has been jailed for a minimum of 27 years.

He was found guilty of 29 offences on Thursday but officers suspect he was involved in as many as 600 attacks.

Grant, 53, of Honor Oak, south London, raped and assaulted elderly victims - many of whom have since died - in south London, Kent and Surrey.

Sentencing him, Judge Peter Rook said: "Your utter depravity knows no bounds."

Grant was given four life sentences at Woolwich Crown Court.

He had been convicted of 29 offences, including burglary, rape and sexual assault, on Thursday. His oldest victim was 89.

The attacks took place in Warlingham, Shirley, Beckenham, Bromley, Addiscombe, Orpington and West Dulwich.

'Extreme fear'

Several of his victims were blind, deaf or had conditions including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Judge Rook said: "I have no doubt that you are a very evil man capable of committing heinous crimes."

He said Grant left a "trail of distress, fear and misery" and carried out "humiliating and degrading sexual attacks" on his victims.

Image caption Grant attacked his victims in their homes at night

He added: "You targeted elderly victims living alone. Your actions blighted the remaining precious years of their lives.

"Their homes, where many of them had lived for years, should have been their safest refuge where they could have expected to live their lives undisturbed and at peace.

"It's hard to imagine the extreme fear that the feel of your gloved hand and the sight of your masked figure looming above them must have been felt by your victims in their beds."

Giving him an indeterminate sentence, the judge told Grant that he might never be released from prison.

He was given life sentences on three counts of rape and one of attempted rape.

Police apology

Grant was also given concurrent eight-year sentences for seven indecent assaults, and concurrent six-year sentences for 18 burglaries and attempted burglaries.

As he has already spent 16 months in custody awaiting trial, he will be able to apply for parole after 25 years and eight months in jail.

The court heard statements and parts of evidence from the victims and their families.

An 85-year-old woman, known only as Miss J, who was attacked in 2002 in Croydon, told the court she does "a lot of locking and bolting, and taking precautions... It changed my life".

In a statement dating back to 2003 she said: "I have found that time is not a great healer. Nobody can guarantee it won't happen again."

The judge also quoted the son of another victim who said: "It has ruined the winter years of my mother's life."

The Metropolitan Police, which apologised for missing opportunities to catch Grant sooner, said he was responsible for some of the most "awful and disturbing crimes" in Scotland Yard's history.

The manhunt for the Night Stalker began in 1998, under the codename Operation Minstead, after two rapes were linked.

Image caption A crowbar used to break in to a house was found in the boot of Delroy Grant's car

A year later the Met missed a key chance to catch Grant when the DNA of another suspect with a similar name was confused with his.

In another instance an officer visited Grant's home but, after finding he was not there, never returned to speak to him.

An Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation found that confusion over names and a poor response to a burglary led to officers failing to arrest the serial sex attacker sooner.

Kit Malthouse, the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said "very significant" changes to policing techniques had been made since the errors took place.

A masked Grant broke into his victims' houses and removed light bulbs and cut telephone lines before attacking them, the court heard.

When the father-of-10, who was also the full-time carer of his estranged wife Jennifer, was arrested in November 2009 he suggested officers should speak to his son.

Following the trial the judge said Grant has "never shown any remorse" and his allegations about his wife planting his semen at crime scenes to frame him showed the attacker's "complete amorality".

Night Stalker incidents investigated by police

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