Joseph McCann: Serial rapist ordered to serve 30 years of 33 life sentences

9 December 2019, 12:56 | Updated: 9 December 2019, 14:02

Joseph McCann has been jailed after being convicted of 37 offences
Joseph McCann has been jailed after being convicted of 37 offences. Picture: PA/ Met Police

By Kate Buck

A serial rapist has been given 33 life sentences following a two-week rampage in which he attacked 11 people.

Joseph McCann, 34, was convicted earlier this month of abducting, raping and assaulting his victims between the ages of 11 and 71 in Watford, London and the North West.

He has been ordered to serve 30 years of the sentences.

It took a jury five hours to find him guilty of 37 charges including eight rapes, false imprisonment and kidnap.

The convicted burglar embarked on his cocaine and vodka-fuelled rampage after being freed from prison two months earlier due to an error made by the probation service.

McCann refused to attend the Old Bailey trial, instead choosing to hide underneath a prison blanket while his lawyers claimed the women he raped had "consensual" sex with him.

The claims were dismissed as "ludicrous" by his victims.

He also did not attend the sentencing, citing a "bad back".

Joseph McCann attacked 11 people between the ages of 11 and 71
Joseph McCann attacked 11 people between the ages of 11 and 71. Picture: Met Police

Mr Justice Edis said McCann was a "classic psychopath, coward, bully and paedophile" during sentencing today.

He said: "This was a campaign of rape, violence and abduction of a kind which I have never seen or heard of before."

He said there should be an independent investigation into how the system "failed to protect" McCann's victims from him.

Mr Justice Edis said: "Joseph McCann, you are very dangerous indeed to people who are weaker than you are.

"Among other things you are a coward and violent bully and a paedophile.

"Your grip on reality is quite tenuous, your instructions to lawyers were utterly ridiculous.

"You are entirely obsessed with yourself. In your world other people exist only for your pleasure and you have no ability to see the world in anybody's eyes other than your own.

"You are a classic psychopath."

He tried to escape capture by hiding up a tree
He tried to escape capture by hiding up a tree. Picture: Met Police

Paying tribute to his victims, the judge said: "Each of these stories is tragic. I hope each will find a way to live through their ordeal and future happiness."

The court heard he had a string of convictions in the North West and South East of England, having received his first term behind bars at the age of 15.

While he had no convictions for sexual offences he did have a "history of violence and threats towards partners of his", prosecutor John Price QC said.

Crimes included escaping custody by grabbing and threatening a female Group 4 security guard with a plastic knife, possessing a blade, robbery and two burglaries.

Since his release in February, McCann was seen by probation officers 10 times.

The last occasion was on April 19, three days before McCann committed his first rape.

A probation officer said McCann had attended the Watford probation office where he was served with a warning for failing to disclose a new relationship, under the terms of his licence because of his history of domestic violence.

McCann was "not happy" about it and when his new fiancee's parents found out about the condition they broke off the relationship because they thought he was a sex offender.

He allegedly used a "support network" across the country to evade police, despite being identified as a suspect almost immediately.

He launched his rampage in the early hours of 21 April, snatching a 21-year-old woman from Watford and raping her.

His victim named him to police, and McCann's details were put onto a on the Police National Computer and a prison recall was issued.

But McCann remained at large and on April 25 he abducted a 25-year-woman in Walthamstow raped her for 14-hours.

Hours later, he was caught on CCTV bundling another 21-year-old woman into his car in north London, as her sister ran off screaming.

Both were repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted.

He kidnapped multiple women
He kidnapped multiple women. Picture: PA

They managed to escape when one of them hit McCann over the head with a bottle of vodka he had ordered them to buy.

Despite McCann’s efforts to force them back into the car, builders working nearby came to their aid and he sped off.

The Metropolitan Police circulated a CCTV image of McCann in Watford and received a tip-off with his name following a public appeal.

On May 5, McCann tricked his way into the home of a woman he met in a bar in Greater Manchester, tied her up and molested her children, aged 17 and 11.

The teenage girl, who described McCann as "evil", jumped out of a first-floor window to alert police.

Later that day, McCann pounced on a 71-year-old woman. He raped her, and abducted and assaulted a 13-year-old girl in her car, before they got away.

As police closed in, McCann forced two 14-year-old girls into the car by threatening to "chop them up" with a machete.

He was captured on CCTV buying condoms at a service station before he was spotted by a patrol car, which gave chase.

McCann drove the wrong way on a roundabout and crashed into a Mercedes before making off on foot, leaving the "terrified" girls behind.

A police helicopter finally located him up a tree, he was coaxed down and arrested early on May 6.

The violent offender later told police: "If you had caught me for the first two, the rest of this wouldn't have happened."

McCann was convicted of 10 counts of false imprisonment, seven counts of rape, one count of rape of a child, two counts of causing or inciting a person to engage in sexual activity without consent, seven counts of kidnap, one count of attempted kidnap, three counts of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, three counts of assault by penetration, one count of sexual assault and two counts of committing a sexual offence with intent.

Following the verdicts, the Probation Service issued an "unreserved" apology for a blunder which led to McCann's release in February, half way through a three-year sentence for burglary.

A probation officer was demoted after a Ministry of Justice review found McCann should have been immediately recalled to jail for an earlier offence.

Four men and two women have been arrested on suspicion of assisting McCann, and released under investigation.

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