A man who carried out multiple rapes across the UK including Edgware and Watford, has been found guilty following a trial at the Old Bailey. He was sentenced today (9 December).
Joseph McCann, 34, from Aylesbury, was convicted of 37 offences relating to 11 victims, aged between 11 and 71. McCann refused to appear at court for the duration of the trial.
Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin, who led the investigation, said: “McCann is a depraved and extremely dangerous individual who subjected 11 innocent people to horrific sexual and physical assaults – the memory of which they will have to live with for the rest of their lives.
“One of the victims described looking into McCann’s eyes as he attacked her and seeing pure evil; anyone who sat through the trial and listened to the evidence can have no doubt she was right.
“This case is one of the most shocking I have ever worked on and is made all the worse by the fact McCann forced all of his victims to re-live their ordeal in court by failing to admit his guilt, despite the overwhelming evidence against him.
“His cowardice in refusing to come to court is in stark contrast to the bravery of those he kidnapped and assaulted and we must never forget their vital role in bringing him to justice.
“We know their lives can never be the same but we hope that today’s verdict and the custodial sentence McCann will receive can provide them with some form of closure. It also demonstrates the clear commitment of officers up and down the country to secure justice for all victims of sexual offences.
“Despite the harrowing nature of these events, during the trial we heard of many real acts of bravery and kindness from the public who assisted the victims of Joseph McCann and I would like to extend my thanks to them not only in helping those affected but in giving evidence to help securing this conviction.
“Tributes must also be paid to the many officers involved in this complex and challenging investigation, not only here in London but those in Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Lancashire and Hertfordshire.
“Since McCann committed the first of his crimes, these officers have dedicated thousands of hours to tracking him down, compiling the evidence against him and supporting the victims through what has been the most traumatic time of their lives.”
McCann’s first offence began in the early hours of Sunday, 21 April when he kidnapped a 21-year-old woman at knifepoint as she walked home alone in Watford.
During the ordeal the suspect gave his name as Joel McCann but within hours enquiries by Hertfordshire Constabulary established his true identity as Joseph McCann.
His details, including the Ford Mondeo car he had used to kidnap her, were shared on the Police National Computer the same day.
Despite ongoing efforts to locate him, McCann remained at large and on Thursday, 25 April, he kidnapped a 25-year-old woman seconds from her front door in Walthamstow and a 21-year-old who was walking home with her sister in Edgware later the same day.
Both were subject to repeated rapes and sexual assaults and forced to engage in sexual activity with each other.
Their ordeal ended in Watford when one of the women managed to hit McCann over the head with a bottle of vodka he had ordered them to buy, giving them the opportunity to attempt to run away. Despite McCann’s efforts to force them back into the car, builders working nearby came to their aid and he drove at speed away from the scene.
Officers from the Met immediately launched an investigation to identify the suspect, carrying out house-to-house enquiries, issuing a number of public appeals and analysing hundreds of hours of CCTV.
As part of this work, on 28 April footage was seized from a hotel in Watford where McCann had attempted to check in with the victims just minutes before they escaped.
The same evening, these images were released to the public as part of a media appeal and within hours, he was identified as Joseph McCann. At this stage, Met officers investigating the London offences identified from PNC that he was also the main suspect for the rape in Hertfordshire just days before.
DCI Goodwin added: “From the moment of his first offence, McCann did everything he could not to be caught and had changed his appearance, given false names and used different cars in order to evade the law.
“Added to that, he had been assisted by a number of people who knew where he was – and that police were looking for him – who decided to help him remain at large and free to attack again.
“Despite these extensive efforts, the work of our dedicated officers and their unwavering commitment to getting justice for each and every victim in this case means he will never again be able to inflict this kind of pain and distress.”
CPS prosecutor Tetteh Turkson said: “Joseph McCann behaved with shocking depravity. He preyed on women and young children with regard only for himself. His victims endured horrifying acts of sexual violence and were subjected to a truly terrifying ordeal.
“It was through persistence and bravery that some of them managed to escape. They showed great strength of character in recounting their stories to police and giving evidence to the court; reliving some of what must have been the darkest moments of their lives. It is with the power of this evidence, and the courage of the victims in giving evidence, that Joseph McCann has been convicted of his crimes.
“The prosecution case against McCann also included hundreds of witness statements, CCTV footage showing McCann’s movements and forensic evidence collated from different police forces across the country, working together to get justice. I hope today’s verdicts provide some comfort to the victims and allows them to focus on moving on and rebuilding their lives.”
The serial rapist Joseph McCann has been handed 33 life sentences with a minimum term of 30 years.
Mr Justice Edis said McCann was a “classic psychopath”.
“This was a campaign of rape, violence and abduction of a kind which I have never seen or heard of before.
“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.”
(Source and image credit: News.met.police.uk)