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Serial sex offender hooked on a buzz' says top academic

PUBLISHED: 17:06 18 November 2009 | UPDATED: 10:11 12 August 2010

IN a rare insight in to the mind of the serial sex attacker dubbed the Night Stalker we reveal what has driven his reign of terror spanning two decades, writes Michael Adkins.

IN a rare insight in to the mind of the serial sex attacker dubbed the 'Night Stalker' we reveal what has driven his reign of terror spanning two decades, writes Michael Adkins.

The gerontophile has sparked the largest hunt for a sexual offender ever - called Operation Minstead.

Thousands of men have been eliminated through DNA testing and the case has taken detectives around the world in the search for a suspect.

Today Dr Richard Wild from the Criminology school at Greenwich University gives a rare glimpse of the 'Night Stalker' revealing he has been hooked on a 'power buzz' for years and will not stop until caught.

He said: "This is an unusual case in the terms of the number of victims, how prolific and over such a long period of time. But this style is not unusual as a sex offence.

"One of the unusual things about a sex offender is that they continue to offend and they increase in seriousness.

"This is why they are taken so seriously by the police, because a flasher can turn in to a rapist, but a burglar would not turn in to a bank robber.

"But what is important is this is not just about sex, it is about power and being able to completely control people like a heightened buzz, they are hooked. That's why this offender can sit with his victims and talk to them. It is about power and humiliation and this is clear when the attacks are varying in their nature."

The Senior Lecturer in Criminology said that the ritualistic elements of the offender, who has often been described as wearing a balaclava and dark clothing or a catsuit, does not suggest that he is opportunistic.

"There is no doubt this is pre-planned and organised," he added. "To build a profile of a sex attacker is quite hard even for the experts because, although it's not a nice thought, it could be pretty much anyone.

"The majority tend to be married. They are not your typical stereotype of a dirty old man or a frustrated teenager. They can have a job, a home, a family. They tend to be on the face of it a normal person. And they can be of any age, it is likely they will continue offending until they cannot physically anymore or they are caught because they progress in seriousness."

Dr Wild said most criminals grow out of their crimes, with traditional property criminals ceasing in their late 20s when they have commitments, such as family or a career.

Professional or career criminals, such as gangsters, operate typically until they are about 60 or 65-years-old, but sex offenders continue in to their 80s or until they can no longer physically carry out their heinous crimes.

He concluded: "Not all of the victims were assaulted in a sexual manner and the degree of violence has progressed so it is more likely to be about power rather than just simply gerontophilia."

michael.adkins@archant.co.uk

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