Cabbie on trial for 'Night Stalker' sex attacks

A cabbie went on trial today accused of being the so-called Night Stalker, a rapist who preyed on elderly victims during a 17-year campaign of attacks.

Delroy Grant, 53, burgled and sexually assaulted vulnerable women and men in their 80s for a gratification it was "impossible to understand", a jury was told.

Opening the prosecution case at the start of a three-week trial at Woolwich Crown Court, Jonathan Laidlaw QC said: "The defendant was targeting the elderly and vulnerable in their homes and during the night.

"That is why he was to become known as the Night Stalker."

Grant, who appeared in the dock with close-cropped hair, glasses and wearing a pinstriped blue suit, is charged with 29 offences committed between October 1992 and November 2009 on pensioners across south London.

Mr Laidlaw told the jury: "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.

"Neither was his sexual interest only confined to women, although it was single women living on their own which he was focused on."

Two of the offences involved elderly men, who were "both subjected to humiliating and degrading attacks", the prosecutor said

He added: "Those who were too frightened to resist or protest were attacked.

"Where he experienced resistance and where his elderly victims refused to be compliant, they tended to be left alone."

The 53-year-old denies the offences in Warlingham, Shirley, Beckenham, Bromley, Addiscombe, Orpington and West Dulwich, all in south London.

Grant, a former minicab driver of Brockley Mews, Honor Oak, south London, was arrested after his car was stopped by police in November 2009.

A jury of five women and seven men was formally sworn in by trial judge Peter Rook QC as the case began.

Grant went to great lengths to avoid identification, removing light bulbs in the bedrooms of his victims and cutting telephone lines to buy himself time to escape, the jury was told.

"This would become something of a hallmark to his offending," Mr Laidlaw said.

But despite precautions, he was never in a rush to leave.

"He was comfortable in the homes of those he burgled and he often engaged his elderly victims in conversation," Mr Laidlaw added.

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

The first of his attacks was on an 89-year-old woman living alone at her bungalow in Shirley.

"On October 11, 1992, she went to bed but later that night she was woken by the defendant who had appeared, standing over her, masked and gloved in her bedroom ... the defendant asked for money and then took time to search the room before turning his attention to the old women and to raping her."

After a six-year gap, Grant attacked an "immobile and housebound" 81-year-old woman, Mr Laidlaw said.

"Despite it being absolutely clear that his victim was too old to have penetrative sex, he still tried to rape her.

"His victim would die of unrelated causes the next year, so she was to suffer the attack in the last year of her life."

Grant raped another two old women and committed six further burglaries during the summer of 1999, the court heard.

Despite the violence of his attacks, Grant was said to be calm and careful, with some victims saying he was "respectful".

The rapes would stop in the last 10 years of his campaign of attacks, possibly because Grant thought advances in forensic science and the use of DNA evidence would make him vulnerable to capture, Mr Laidlaw said.

It was also in 1999 that the media stepped up its campaign to catch the Night Stalker, the barrister added.

Grant was growing increasingly cautious of capture, he said.

Gloves were always worn to prevent identification.

In the early days of his offending, Mr Laidlaw said: "If he was careful, the police would have to get lucky or he would have to be careless."

Mr Laidlaw added: "There was another burglary in 2003 during which the defendant was to wash the elderly victim's hand in an obvious attempt to remove any of his DNA and, during the latter stages of his offending, he was to display a greater regard to the importance from his perspective of being careful, of not leaving clues as to his identity."

The defendant's "good fortune to evade arrest for so long" ran out on the night of November 15 2009 during a robbery of an 86-year-old's home in Shirley.

Mr Laidlaw said: "Before he could gain entry, he was disturbed and made off running back to his car, which was parked nearby."

Police officers were on covert surveillance duties and, some distance away in Croydon, the defendant was arrested.

"The police had their breakthrough and the defendant's offending was finally to be brought to an end."

Grant's offending was characterised by "arrogance", the barrister said.

His "extraordinary defence" - that he blames his ex-wife for framing him - shows how he is "incapable of facing up to what he has done", Mr Laidlaw added.

Recalling the first of the rapes in 1992, the jury heard that the victim's face was pressed so hard that "her false teeth were dislodged".

"This defendant was well-prepared. He wore a mask and knew there was little chance that his elderly victims would be able to identify him," Mr Laidlaw said.

In another attack, he gained entry to a property by removing the beading on a window frame before lifting out the entire glass.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Wayne Rooney warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane
football
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
Danielle George is both science professor and presenter
people
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015