'Night stalker' shook victim's hand

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The Independent Online

The "Night Stalker" sex attacker drank from a can of beer before shaking the hand of one of his victims and leaving through the front door, a court heard.

The shocked 82-year-old woman, who was subject to an indecent assault, was so relieved not to have been more badly hurt she even thanked her attacker, Woolwich Crown Court heard.

The pensioner, who lived in Addiscombe in Croydon, south London, but has since died, said the man, wearing a balaclava, was "almost respectful" in his manner and "well-spoken".

She only phoned a neighbour for help after discovering he had removed fuses from her fuse box and she was "annoyed" because she wanted a cup of tea.

Delroy Grant, a 53-year-old former minicab driver, is on trial accused of carrying out a campaign of terror in south London over 17 years.

He denies 29 charges relating to burglaries, attempted burglaries, rapes and indecent assaults against 18 pensioners between October 1992 and November 2009.

Jonathan Laidlaw QC read a witness statement from one victim, known only as Mrs F, in which she described an attack at her detached property on July 12 1999.

Towards the end of the incident, she said she opened the front door.

"I said something like 'Thank you for not hurting me'. I felt that he could have been so horrible and nasty to me that, as shocking and unpleasant as it was, I was thankful that he did not hurt me."

She said she walked to the front door to open it and continued: "Somehow he shook my hand and pushed me back from the door."

She said it was as if he wanted to make it look like he had just been visiting.

The victim said she had locked up the house and gone to bed as usual.

She said: "The next thing I knew was a hand covering my mouth and nose.

"I felt quite a bit of pressure from his hand on my face. I thought I must be dreaming. I hadn't heard anything.

"I opened my eyes and I immediately snatched his hand away from my face."

She continued: "I remember seeing this big black hooded masked face. I said something like 'What do you want of me?' The man replied in a mumbled, muffled voice 'money'."

The court heard he took £15 in cash from her handbag in the wardrobe.

She went on: "He came and sat next to me on my left hand side. He rested his head against mine, leant over to me and said something similar to 'Do you want to have sex?'

"I had to ask him to repeat (himself) as I was so shocked by what he had said.

"I said 'No, certainly not, I'm an old woman. It won't do anything for you or me', or something similar."

The court heard she was then assaulted.

The woman told police: "I asked him not to hurt me. He didn't say anything back. He didn't try to restrain me at all. He seemed to take his time.

"The man's manner with me was almost respectful. He was not violent or aggressive towards me but I thought he could have been."

She said he looked in all the rooms around the house before they went downstairs, where he pulled a can of beer from his pocket.

She said: "I asked him 'What sort of beer is that?' He replied 'It's bitter' and after a short time he placed it on a table at the bottom of my hallway."

She said: "By now I was fed up and decided it was time that he went."

Another victim, named only as Mrs H, 88, from Shirley in Croydon, who has also died, was awoken in her home on August 3 1999.

She said in her statement: "I was shaken, petrified and dumb struck. I didn't know what to do. I kept looking at his eyes, wondering what he was going to do next. I seem to remember saying 'What do you want? How did you get in?"'

She was indecently assaulted but afterwards told police he stopped after she said: "It's a good job your mother can't see you now."

She said: "I wonder if that had made him stop."

But in a later statement, the woman, who said she had been "paralysed with fear", was unsure if she had actually spoken the words she was thinking.

She said: "I don't remember having said this now and I'm wondering if it was something I was thinking at the time."

Pc Philip Chew, who interviewed the woman, said: "It was difficult to extract information out of the victim due to her state of distress."

The court heard Mrs I, 88, was subjected to a horrific indecent assault and rape at her semi-detached bungalow in Orpington, Kent, on August 4 1999.

The woman said she was woken by a creaking noise and continued: "All of a sudden I saw this figure at the end of the bed.

"He was completely covered head to foot in an all in one type cat suit."

She continued: "He covered my face and mouth and I felt like I was being smothered. I couldn't breath or see."

The court heard the woman, who used a shopping trolley as a Zimmer frame, was "manhandled" out of her bed as the attacker tried to "frog march" her into the living room.

She said she gave him her purse which contained £60.

The court heard the attacker shone his torch on her and whispered: "Let me look at you."

The victim said of the attack: "He was really brutal. I was in such awful pain."

The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.