A man who kidnapped seven people and carried out multiple rapes and sexual assaults over a two-week period has been found guilty following a trial at the Old Bailey.
Joseph McCann, 34, from Aylesbury, was convicted of 37 offences relating to 11 victims, aged between 11 and 71, in locations across the country including Watford, Hertfordshire, London, Lancashire, Manchester and Cheshire.
The 34-year-old was arrested by officers in the early hours of Monday, 6 May and will be sentenced at a later date.
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McCann’s offending began in the early hours of Sunday, April 21, this year, 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, April 25, 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.
As part officer’s inquiries, footage was seized from a hotel in Watford where McCann had attempted to check in with the victims just minutes before they escaped.
On Sunday, May 5, police in Lancashire received a 999 call at around 10:30hrs to say a woman had been detained in her own home and her two children – aged 11 and 17 – raped and sexually assaulted.
McCann was soon identified as the prime suspect and the focus of the search moved north-west.
McCann quickly moved away from Lancashire and travelled via public transport to a supermarket in Ramsbottom in Greater Manchester, where he approached a 71-year-old woman as she got into her car at around 13:25hrs.
He forced her to drive away, punching her in the face and raped her in an industrial estate. He later kidnapped a 13-year-old girl from a street in Heywood and sexually assaulted her while the previous victim was still in the car.
Both victims managed to escape at around 17:55hrs while at a service station in Knutsford and called police.
Just over half an hour later, McCann had arrived – in the same car – in Congleton, Cheshire, where he kidnapped two 14-year-old girls who were walking down the road with a friend.
Within 20 minutes, an officer from Cheshire on patrol in a marked police car spotted McCann’s car at a roundabout and a pursuit ensued.
As seen in dash-cam footage from a police car in the pursuit, McCann crashed with another vehicle and lost officers in an industrial estate and fled the scene on foot. The two girls were left shaken but uninjured.
Roadblocks were quickly set up on all roads in and out of Congleton and at 20:38hrs, an officer manning a roadblock stopped a taxi and saw a man matching McCann’s description in the back seat.
He tried to grab him but again, McCann ran from the scene. Despite sprinting through fields to try and lose police, a police helicopter located him just over an hour later, hiding up a tree.
Following a five-hour stand-off with police negotiators, he eventually came down and was arrested by Cheshire officers at 02:36hrs on Monday, May 6.
DNA evidence also linked McCann to multiple crime scenes including the victims’ homes and clothes.
Anyone who believes that they are victim of a sexual offence should report it to the police. The information you provide will be treated in strictest confidence and you will be supported by specialist officers.
More to follow.