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Yard - We bungled Stalker manhunt

Scotland Yard has been forced to apologise for bungling another high profile manhunt after admitting one of Britain's most depraved sex attackers should have been stopped a decade earlier.

Hundreds of elderly victims are feared to have been preyed on by Night Stalker Delroy Grant after officers botched a chance to arrest him in 1999.

As the 53-year-old former minicab driver was convicted of a 17-year campaign of perverted terror, the Met was criticised by its watchdog for "basic errors" which had "horrific consequences".

It is the latest in a string of controversies to tarnish the force's record on snaring sex attackers.

Officers previously said sorry for failing to link a string of attacks to rapist cabbie John Worboys and also admitted they should have arrested children's football coach Kirk Reid earlier for stalking and attacking women. Detectives fear Grant attacked more than 500 elderly people during some of the most "awful and disturbing crimes" ever investigated by the force.

Commander Simon Foy, head of the Metropolitan Police's homicide and serious crime command, said Grant's conviction lifted a shadow of fear from thousands of pensioners living in south London. But he apologised for the paperwork blunder which led to the DNA of another suspect scuppering attempts to snare the sex beast, saying: "We are deeply sorry for the trauma suffered by all those victims and our failure to bring Grant to justice earlier."

Twice-married Grant has been told he could face a life sentence for his sickening and depraved attacks. Grant stood motionless in the dock with his hands clasped throughout as the verdict was returned after eight-and-a-half hours' deliberations.

Judge Peter Rook QC told him: "You have been convicted of 29 offences of the utmost gravity."

Grant is a "perverted, callous and violent individual" who attacked some of the most vulnerable people in society, Commander Foy said.

Between 1992 and 2009 the masked sexual predator preyed on frail men and women and violated them in their homes, sometimes for several hours. Many of his victims - aged up to 89 - were blind, deaf or had conditions including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

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