The notorious Brockley ‘Night Stalker’ rapist was able to continue preying on elderly men and women for over a decade because of seven mistakes by investigating police officers, the police watchdog has said. The Metropolitan Police failed to follow up “basic” lines of inquiry that could have led to the arrest of Delroy Grant, who was one of London’s most wanted criminals, a report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission concluded.
The IPCC focussed on a missed opportunity to detain Grant, who is believed to have stolen from hundreds of pensioners and sexually abused many of his victims, after a burglary in May 1999.
An eyewitness saw a balaclava-clad man at the scene in Bromley and took down the registration number of his BMW.
Officers confirmed the vehicle belonged to Grant but failed to arrest him or take a DNA sample which would have linked him to his crimes.
A redacted version of the IPCC report which has been published this week states:
It is alleged that if this burglary had been investigated efficiently and effectively, the person subsequently charged with the Operation Minstead series of burglaries and rapes, would have been arrested before the date of his actual arrest for other offences. It is claimed that because the burglary in Bromley was not investigated effectively, numerous other people became victims of rape and burglary.
The IPCC’s Operation Minstead final report singled out seven points which “should have been pursued” after the incident in 1999.
It said police should have obtained statements from the victim, statements from the eyewitness, detailed what was stolen, completed house-to-house inquiries, secured a warrant to search Grant’s address, recovered his car and arrested and interviewed him.
The Metropolitan Police apologised for the errors before Grant was jailed for life. The 53-year-old taxi driver, a father of 10, was found guilty by a jury of offences against at least 18 victims. However it is feared the total could be much higher.
From 1992 to 2009 Grant targeted frail men and woman in their homes across south London and Surrey, including Croydon. Grant lived with his family in Brockley Mews, south east London.
He would unscrew light bulbs and cut telephone cables before attacking his victims. Many of his victims lived alone and were in their 80′s, and seven have since died.
The IPCC report stressed that the failures in the enquiry were not the result of any officer acting wilfully:
There is no material that suggests that any officer has acted wilfully by failing to complete any part of the investigation process. It is apparently a case where one party felt the other was dealing with the burglary and visa versa. This is about individual failings rather than organisational failure.
The report was completed by a Deputy Senior Investigator at the IPCC in July last year, but its publication was delayed by the outstanding proceedings against Grant.
The IPCC said this report was completed in the context of two recent IPCC enquiries that had already “highlighted failings by the Metropolitan Police Service regarding sexual offences investigations.” These related to the cases of the London taxi rapist John Worboys (Operation Danzey) and multiple rapist Kirk Reid (Operation Anflora).
The IPCC says that the enquiries into the burglary in Bromley by Delroy Grant in 1999 were poor outside the wider context of his serial criminal behaviour:
There is no doubt that if this were an ordinary burglary without Minstead connections, it would have been poorly investigated. The Minstead issue clearly makes it an aggravating feature.