DCI Colin Sutton: who is the police detective played by Martin Clunes in Manhunt The Night Stalker on ITV?

Colin Sutton worked tirelessly to put rapist Delroy Grant in prison as part of Operation Minstead

ITV’s crime drama Manhunt returnd for a second series with Manhunt:The Night Stalker telling the real life story of the police pursuit of the Night Stalker, Delroy Grant.

The four-part drama is based on the diaries of Colin Sutton, played by BAFTA-award-winning actor Martin Clunes.

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Clunes reprised the role after playing Sutton in the first series of Manhunt (2019), which explored the investigation into the murder of French student Amélie Delagrange.

This led to the arrest and conviction of Levi Bellfield, who was also convicted for the murders of Marsha McDonnell and British schoolgirl Millie Dowler.

So, who is DCI Colin Sutton - and how did he solve the 17-year long Night Stalker case? This is what you need to know.

Who is DCI Colin Sutton?

Sutton has revealed how his investigation led officers to arrest Delroy Grant

Colin Sutton was a murder detective and later became a Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) in 2003, a position he held until 2011.

During his service he was involved in two of the largest manhunts in recent UK history - that of killer Levi Bellfield - whose victims included schoolgirl Milly Dowler - and serial rapist Delroy Grant, the infamous ‘Night Stalker’.

He successfully led 30 murder investigations during his 15 years as a Detective Chief Inspector, working for three different police forces.

Since retiring from duty, DCI Sutton has also worked as a private detective for large companies and individuals, as well as lending his skills to offer opinion and insight into other active police searches and investigations.

He ran a blog from 2011 to 2017, in which he described himself as a "retired London murder DCI, exercising his brain by thinking about things - and writing it down".

He now lives in Suffolk and has been involved in the creation of several TV shows, most notably ITV’s docu-drama ‘Manhunt,’ about the search for Levi Bellfield.

DCI Sutton worked with ITV on a second series of Manhunt, this time shining a light on the 17-year-long search for Delroy Grant.

Martin Clunes will reprise the role of Sutton for the sequel of ‘Manhunt’

What did Delroy Grant do?

Grant targeted elderly women in South East London, Surrey and Kent across a 17-year-long reign of terror from October 1992 until his arrest in November 2009.

He would break into his victims’ homes and disconnect the phone line and electricity, leaving them in complete darkness. He was also known to remove light bulbs.

His method of breaking in included removing entire window panels or climbing through open windows.

Delroy Grant is thought to have sexually assaulted and raped over 100 victims

Dressed all in black and masked with a balaclava, Grant would wake his victims using a torch, before raping them and fleeing from the scene.

Sometimes he would take small amounts of money or jewellery, though this is not thought to have been the motive behind his attacks.

A dedicated unit, Operation Minstead, was established in 1998 to hunt down the man who became known as The Night Stalker.

He was arrested on 15 November 2009, when police officers covertly monitoring the area of Croydon following attempted break-ins, found him walking back to his car after attempting to enter an elderly woman’s home.

By the time of his arrest, Grant had assaulted more than 203 women, the youngest in her late 60s and the eldest aged 93.

Nobody suspected Grant, a church-goer who was known as a devoted husband to his wife who had muscular sclerosis.

Following his arrest, Neighbour Deniz Ahmet said: "His wife was in a wheelchair. He was always pushing her around.

Delroy was described by neighbours as a family man and church-goer

"During the day he was a normal partner, we couldn’t tell that he was the way he was.

"She always had a smile on her face, she looked happy and content."

In 2011, Grant was found guilty of 22 accounts of rape, burglary and sexual assault.

How did DCI Colin Sutton support the case?

DCI Colin Sutton, who had also headed up the investigation which led to the conviction of Milly Dowler’s killer Levi Bellfield, was brought in to support the case. At this point the investigation had been going on for more than 10 years and there were no leads.

The detective said on Amazon Prime documentary ‘Evil Up Close: The Night Stalker’ that he “had been handed a poison chalice.”

The case had drawn blanks, despite detectives later revealing that Grant’s car had been spotted at one victim’s home in 1998 and linked to a ‘Delroy Grant’.

However, DNA found at the scene was checked against a different Delroy Grant and ultimately no match was made.

Then when Grant’s name was given by another tip off following a similar attack years later, the mishap from the initial DNA blunder meant Delroy Grant was ruled out without further inquiries.

DCI Sutton was drafted in to solve the case and applied the same techniques he had used when searching for Bellfield.

Instead of focussing on DNA, he set up a burglary squad of over 70 officers and deployed them in and around a street in Croydon in which there had been regular attacks.

Sutton established an in-depth surveillance plan for the street and on their first night of watch, the Night Stalker attacked three times, but each attack was just outside the area being surveilled.

However, police managed to catch the rapist running to his car on CCTV, and examined each frame to identify his vehicle.

The car was spotted then spotted in the same neighbourhood by a member of the surveillance team a few weeks later, at the time Grant was attempting to break into another elderly woman’s home. He was caught as he approached his car, at around 2am on November 15 2009.

DCI Sutton said of the sex predator’s crimes: "Officially we have looked at 203 offences but my guess would be you could probably double or treble that number."

Later, Sutton said of the rapist: “People say he was a charmer, a nice guy, a regular bloke.

“There was a lot of surprise when he was arrested. People just wouldn’t have thought that Delroy Grant was the Night Stalker.”

When in Manhunt: The Night Stalker on ITV?

All four episodes of Manhunt: The Night Stalker are available on the ITV Hub.

Sutton will also be interviewed by Susanna Reid for a documentary about the real case which airs on ITV on Thursday, 30 September at 9pm.