Alleged Night Stalker 'tried to blame his son'

A serial rapist dubbed the Night Stalker, who broke into the homes of elderly people and subjected them to a series of "humiliating and degrading" attacks, tried to blame his son for his 17-year campaign of terror, a court heard yesterday.

Taxi driver Delroy Grant, 53, even claimed his ex-wife had sought to frame him by collecting samples of saliva and semen that would implicate him in the offences, the prosecutor said. The jury at Woolwich Crown Court was told that DNA evidence linked the former minicab driver to 12 of his 18 victims between 1992 and 2009, and that it was a "one in one billion" chance of another suspect matching the profile.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Jonathan Laidlaw QC said the defendant attacked both men and women living across south London. All were vulnerable, single pensioners, mostly in their 80s and living on their own. "What it was that motivated him to carry out sexual offences on the very elderly and what sort of gratification he could possibly have achieved is obviously difficult, if not impossible, to understand," he said.

It was alleged that Grant, who denies all 29 offences including three rapes and one attempted rape, would break into his victims' homes at night with his face concealed by a mask. He would remove lightbulbs and even cut the telephone line to give himself extra time to escape, the court heard. On one occasion, it was alleged, he removed an entire window frame to gain access.

But despite these extensive preparations, Mr Laidlaw claimed that Grant, of Honor Oak, south London, was not always in a hurry to leave the premises and would engage his victims in conversation.

"Whether it was just the additional sexual element that he enjoyed or it was the power and control he could assert while committing these offences, or it was the fear and anxiety, which he created and revelled in, will probably remain unclear," he added.

Two of the offences involved elderly men but the remainder of the victims were women. The prosecution said that those who were too frightened to resist or protest were attacked, while those who refused to comply tended to be left alone. However, it was claimed he raped an 81-year-old woman who feigned a heart attack.

Following his arrest in 2009, Grant suggested to police that his son may be responsible – possibly because he shared his DNA profile, the jury heard.

Mr Laidlaw said: "The defendant is going to say that his ex-wife, a lady called Mrs Janet Watson, collected and saved samples of body fluids, both semen and saliva, during their relationship and then, motivated by malice and in order to satisfy a grudge she holds against him, has set about this plot to falsely implicate him.

"How she would know back in 1979 that in due course scientists, who had not then invented the technique, would be able to recover DNA from semen and saliva is a question you might well ask."

The first attack took place in 1992 on an 89-year-old woman at her bungalow in Shirley. A six-year gap followed, but then the attacks resumed, the court heard. The final rape occurred in 1999, although the burglaries and indecent assaults continued, possibly because Grant believed advances in forensic science and the use of DNA evidence would make him vulnerable to capture, Mr Laidlaw said.

The trial continues.