“Classic psychopath” Joseph McCann has been handed 33 life sentences and a minimum term of 30 years for a string of horrific sex attacks on 11 women and children.
The 34-year-old convicted burglar had been freed after a probation service error, two months before he embarked on a cocaine and vodka-fuelled rampage.
Over 15 days, he abducted, raped and assaulted victims aged between 11 and 71 in Watford, London and the North West.
He allegedly used a “support network” across the country to evade police, despite being identified as a suspect on the day of his first attack.
- Video report from December 6, when McCann was found guilty
McCann, who had addresses in Aylesbury and Harrow, refused to attend his Old Bailey trial and hid under a prison blanket rather than give evidence.
It was claimed on his behalf the women he was accused of molesting had consensual sex, but that was dismissed as “ludicrous” by victims.
On Friday, the jury deliberated for five hours to find him guilty of 37 charges relating to 11 victims, including eight rapes, false imprisonment and kidnap.
On Monday, McCann failed to attend his sentencing at the Old Bailey, citing a “bad back”.
In his absence, Mr Justice Edis handed him 33 life sentences with a minimum term of 30 years, saying McCann was a “classic psychopath”.
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 then 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.”
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 fiancée’s parents found out about the condition they broke off the relationship because they thought he was a sex offender.
In a victim impact statement, one of McCann’s victims told how her life had changed from being “thriving” to “surviving”.
The court heard how McCann snatched his first victim from the street in Watford and raped her in her own bed in the early hours of April 21.
The woman named her attacker to police, and McCann’s details were put 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, 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.
They escaped in Watford, after the 25-year-old hit McCann over the head with a vodka bottle.
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.
- McCann's 15 day reign of terror
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, halfway 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.