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  1. ITV Report

Joseph McCann found guilty of a series of rapes, kidnappings and false imprisonment

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

Joseph McCann is facing life behind bars for a horrific series of knifepoint attacks on women and children.

"Evil" McCann, 34, a convicted burglar who had been freed after a probation error, went on a two-week cocaine and vodka-fuelled rampage, abducting, raping and assaulting victims aged between 11 and 71 in Watford, London and the North West.

He was found guilty on 37 counts by an Old Bailey jury on Friday. His offences were so numerous, it took the jury foreman seven-and-a-half minutes to deliver verdicts on all counts.

McCann caught on CCTV. Credit: PA

McCann's crimes were committed over a period of just 15 days as he managed to evade police after changing his appearance.

On his arrest, he told police: "If you had caught me for the first two, the rest of this wouldn't have happened."

Mr Justice Edis told the court that 33 of the offences carried discretionary life sentences, which he was considering in the case.

McCann, who had addresses in Aylesbury and Harrow, refused to attend his Old Bailey trial and his claim to have had consensual sex with some of his victims was dismissed as "ludicrous".

Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin described McCann as "evil" "manipulative" and "cunning".

"He clearly is a horrendously dangerous individual. Each person feared for their lives while they were held against their will. "

Ms Goodwin said the victims suffered "horrific ordeals" and had been "incredibly brave" in going to court to give evidence.

It can now be reported that four men and two women have been arrested on suspicion of assisting McCann and released under investigation.

  • What has been the response from the probation service?

The Ministry of Justice has also launched an inquiry into why McCann was not recalled to prison after committing a burglary following his release from an indeterminate sentence for aggravated burglary.

Instead, McCann was automatically freed having served half of his sentence on February 15.

The service has apologised for "failings" which enabled the "evil" sex attacker to carry out his series of attacks.

It is understood one Probation Service worker was demoted as a result of a review of four staff who had direct contact with McCann.

McCann climbed a tree in an attempt to flee police. Credit: PA

Dr Jo Farrar, Chief Executive of HM Prisons and Probation Service, said: “We recognise that there were failings and we apologise unreservedly for our part in this. We are committed to doing everything we possibly can to learn from this terrible case."

She continued: “We have taken strong and immediate action against those involved in the management of McCann’s case and are taking significant steps to improve intelligence sharing between agencies.

“At the same time, we are developing new mandatory training on recall for all probation officers and we have updated guidance on the threshold for recalling an offender to prison.”

  • McCann's horrifying 15-day reign of terror

The court heard how two months after his release, in the early hours of April 21, McCann snatched a young woman from the street in Watford and raped her in her bed.

The woman reported the attack to police and after McCann's details were put on the Police National Computer, a prison recall was issued.

But McCann remained at large and on April 25 he abducted a 25-year-woman as she walked home from work in Walthamstow and subjected her to a 14-hour rape ordeal.

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

The two captives escaped outside the Phoenix Lodge in Watford, after the 25-year-old woman hit McCann over the head with a vodka bottle.

Joseph McCann was convicted of 37 offences. Credit: PA

She told jurors she was determined to survive and used her "logic" to seize her chance to incapacitate him.

The Metropolitan Police circulated a CCTV image of McCann at the Phoenix Hotel and received a tip-off with his name following a public appeal.

Earlier 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.

As McCann ran out after her, the 11-year-old boy cut his mother free.

Later that day, McCann pounced on a 71-year-old woman loading shopping in her car outside a Morrisons supermarket.

He raped her and abducted and assaulted a 13-year-old girl in her car before they got away.

DetInsp Katherine Goodwin said McCann was 'one of the most dangerous sex offenders.' Credit: ITV News

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.

Later, he was caught in a taxi at a police road block, but he ran off into a field, having changed into a wet T-shirt snatched from a clothes line.

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

Handout grab from CCTV footage of the police chase with serial rapist Joseph McCann in a stolen Fiat. Credit: PA
  • What was in convicted of in his absence?

McCann refused to attend his trial, but appeared by video link from prison in the absence of the jury to beg for an adjournment, which was refused.

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.