ITV’s latest drama tells the gruesome true story of the capture of the Night Stalker, who was responsible for making thousands of elderly people in south east London live in fear of going to bed at night in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Manhunt: The Night Stalker will see Martin Clunes return as real-life police officer DCI Colin Sutton, who worked on some of the Metropolitan Police’s most high profile cases.
DCI Sutton is recruited to assist in the hunt for a serial rapist that targeted elderly victims over 17 years.
Delroy Grant, one of the UK’s worst serial rapists, went undetected for years – and police officers believed he could have attacked as many as a thousand elderly women.
The Met’s Operation Minstead was set up in 1998 in order to investigate the crimes after two rapes were linked.
Although it was easy for investigators to identify a connection between the crimes because of the distinctive characteristics of the attacker, it was difficult to predict where Grant would attack next due to Grant’s random timings and wide geographic location.
Police profilers believed the attacker had a sexual obsession with elderly people, but that he was ashamed of what he was doing because at certain points in time he would stop completely – before continuing his attacks again.
The Night Stalker reveals how Grant, a detective who was late to the investigation, solved the case in just weeks.
Grant was ultimately arrested after he was linked to over 200 incidents that took place in London, Kent, Surrey, and the United Kingdom between 1992 and 2009.
Grant would target mostly elderly women who lived on their own – the oldest known victim being in her 90s.
His victims ranged in age from 68 to 93 – and 10 of them were men. Many of his victims were in poor health and had either arthritis or mental health problems.
The attacker would break into his victims’ homes, disconnect their electricity and phone lines before sexually assaulting or raping them.
His victims said that he was terrifyingly unpredictable. He could be extremely violent, gentle kiss victims or leave them without even assaulting them.
He spoke softly to his victims before carrying out the brutal attacks.
In May 1999, years before Grant was arrested, police thought they had received a breakthrough in the case that would put an end to the attacker’s rampage.
One member of the general public saw a suspicious man at Bromley’s scene of a burglary. This was similar to Night Stalker attacks.
The eyewitness gave the registration of a BMW to police. It was later found that it belonged to Delroy Easton grant.
But rookie police officers made a major blunder – they assessed the wrong Delroy Grant – one who already was on the national DNA database.
Police checked his forensics against the sample left at the scene – but it wasn’t a match.
A spokesman for the Independent Police Complaints Commission said: “It was a simple misunderstanding which had horrific consequences.”
Two years later the police missed out on an opportunity to bag Grant again when a viewer watching an appeal about the Night Stalker on BBC’s Crime Watch contacted them about a suspicious person who lived in south London – naming Delroy Grant.
Police were able to cross-reference the name and found that the suspect had been removed from the investigation.
The Night Stalker, an 88-year old Polish man from Thornton Heath was robbed by him in August 2009.
The Night Stalker was caught at an ATM, but he was unable withdraw cash as he was given the wrong pin code. After the theft of a woman, he returned to the ATM machine two months later.
Police launched a large-scale operation in October 2009, setting up 70 undercover officers around some of the Night Stalker’s hotspots in the hope of catching him.
Grant was convicted of another burglary on Sunday, November 15, 2009.
They searched Grant’s vehicle and discovered a gray balaclava, a blue cagoule and grey fleece.
Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton said: “People say he was a charmer, a nice guy, a regular bloke.
“There was a lot of surprise when he was arrested. People just wouldn’t have thought that Delroy Grant was the Night Stalker.”
Many people knew Grant as a loving husband and full-time caregiver for his wife Jennifer.
In 2011, Grant was 53 years old and was found guilty in 29 of his offences. These included rape, burglary, and sexual assault.
Grant was sentenced for four life sentences, with minimum 27 years in prison.
Manhunt: The Night Stalker will air from Monday, September 20
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