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Police missed chance to catch Night Stalker Delroy Grant following DNA mix up
POLICE missed an opportunity to catch Night Stalker Delroy Grant sooner following a poor response to a burglary at the home of an elderly woman in Bromley.
An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints' Commission has found that confusion over the Night Stalker suspect and police errors following the burglary in May 1999 led to a failure to catch the serial sex attacker sooner.
A crime report from Bromley police's burglary team included information about two different men both with the name Delroy Grant, which led to police checking the DNA sample of the wrong man against the offender profile.
Three days after the burglary, a member of the public told police a man had been seen putting on a balaclava and gloves before heading to a house, and gave officers the registration of the BMW car the man drove.
Officers identified the car was registered to Delroy Easton Grant of SE4 and his wife Jennifer.
A search of police databases identified a number of men with a similar name nationwide, including one in London but Delroy Easton Grant was not on the database.
The burglary team contacted the Operation Minstead team, set up to investigate the Night Stalker attacks, to tell them about a possible linked crime, including details of Delroy Easton Grant and the similarly named person in London.
The similarly named person did not match the DNA samples found at the scenes of the Minstead offences.
An officer even visited Grant's address in Brockley Mews and spoke to a woman who confirmed Grant owned the BMW.
But Grant was never arrested nor even spoken to.
Following the investigation, two detective constables were disciplined by being given management advice.
IPCC Commissioner for London Deborah Glass, said: "Delroy Grant's terrible crimes targeted some of society's most vulnerable individuals leaving them and their loved ones heavily traumatised.
"The IPCC investigated the police’s response to one crime linked to Operation Minstead in 1999.
"It is clear that a simple misunderstanding had horrific consequences. Police missed the opportunity because confusion led to the wrong man’s DNA being compared.
"This mistake set off a chain of events that was compounded by poor communications between, and within, the two teams meaning that basic enquiries, such as arresting Grant and searching his property, were not done.
"Had an officer from either team done this then Grant may have been charged for the Bromley burglary, leading to his DNA being matched to the Minstead crimes.
"While our investigation identified poor communication and basic policing errors, in which each team believed that the other was responsible, we also have to recognise that we have required officers to account for actions taken 12 years ago, and accept that they could not have foreseen the consequences."
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