Police are appealing to trace a van driver who may be a witness in a rape and kidnap investigation in Watford.
Hertfordshire Constabulary is continuing to work with the Metropolitan Police Service in order to investigate this incident and two linked cases in London. Joseph McCann, aged 34, has been named as wanted in connection with all three offences.
The Hertfordshire offence occurred in the early hours of Easter Sunday (21 April). At around 3.30am, a 21-year-old woman was walking on Hagden Lane when she was approached by a man holding a knife, close to the junction with Rickmansworth Road.
She was forced into a blue Ford Mondeo and driven around Watford for some time by the offender. They drove to locations including to Watford Library on Hempstead Road where they were parked for some time and to North Western Avenue.
She was then taken to a private residential address in the town where she was raped, before being driven again in the Mondeo to the BP garage on Wiggenhall Road. The incident ended at around 9.30am when she was released by the offender.
The victim is now receiving specialist support from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Sexual Offence Investigation Team.
Shortly before this took place, a van had pulled up alongside the victim and offered her a lift, which she declined. Police are trying to trace the driver, as he may be a witness or have information that could assist the investigation.
Senior investigating officer, detective inspector Phoebe Biggs said: “This was a horrific incident which has understandably left the victim extremely traumatised.
“We would like to trace anyone who believes they may have seen a man acting suspiciously in the Hagden Lane, Rickmansworth Road areas that morning. In particular the driver of the van that offered the woman a lift shortly before she was attacked. I would like to stress, they are not a suspect, but may be a witness who can assist our investigation.
“Or did you see a blue Mondeo at any of these locations listed above? Please contact us 101 or go to www.herts.police.uk/report if you think you saw it.”
Watford chief inspector Matt Phillips said: “I understand this incident and the linked offences that occurred in London will be of concern to the public. I would like to reassure residents that we are doing all in our power to bring the offender to justice.
“We are working closely with our colleagues in the Metropolitan Police and have increased our patrols in Watford in response.
“We as a Community Safety Partnership are liaising with local organisations in the town in order to gain a better understanding of the current concerns in the community and will be sharing information when we can.
“We are aware that there is some speculation and rumour circulating on social media which is likely to also be fuelling concern. I would urge people to treat these with a degree of caution as much of the information is false. I would urge members of the public to go to the Met and our own website and social media for the latest information about the investigation.
“Of course if you believe you are in imminent danger call 999 immediately. If you would like personal safety advice you can find it on our website here.”