Briton arrested in serial rape investigation

AP News
Posted: Nov 16, 2009 10:36 AM

In one of Britain's longest running hunts for a serial rapist, Scotland Yard detectives charged a 52-year-old man Monday with a string of nearly a dozen assaults and burglaries.

The man dubbed the "Night Stalker," left a trail of terror for 19 years _ breaking into homes, disabling phone lines and creeping into the bedrooms of his elderly victims during ordeals that lasted for hours.

The victims were mostly elderly women.

Delroy Grant appeared in court charged with five counts of rape, six indecent assaults and 11 burglaries between 1992 and 2009. The victims involved in the rape charges ranged in age from 81 to 89, police said. Grant is a British citizen.

Wearing a police-issue track suit, Grant spoke in court only to confirm his personal details. His lawyer did not ask for bail, and the defendant was remanded in custody until Thursday.

The arrest comes as a result of Operation Minstead _ a Metropolitan Police task force with a randomly generated name _ which was formed in 1997 to find the man. About 30 officers investigated more than 100 incidents.

After a series of interviews with victims in southeast London over the years, a pattern began emerging.

The telephone lines of the victims' homes were often disabled, and fuse boxes tampered with. Some described a person in a mask, waking them up by shining a flashlight in their faces. Police have said the attacker spent as long as four hours with the victims.

Forensic psychologist Keith Ashcroft said that serial attackers usually continue until they are caught, describing their behavior as compulsive. He said that a sexual fixation on elderly people _ known as gerontophilia _ is an unusual condition.

"It's definitely on the margins of what we'd normally encounter in a forensic practice," he said.

The long-running investigation was featured on the BBC's "Crimewatch" program, a composite sketch was released by police earlier this year, and a 40,000 pound ($67,000) reward was offered. More than 2,000 DNA samples were collected as part of the investigation, and in 2006, detectives traveled to Trinidad and Barbados after testing suggested the attacker might have Caribbean ancestry.

Over the weekend, news that an arrest had been made emerged.

Prosecutor Denise Clewes told the court Monday that detectives need to speak to Grant about "a large number" of other offenses.