Joseph McCann: Children among several new victims identified as alleged rapist arrested

Police investigating rapes and abductions involving 12 victims, including 11-year-old boy and a woman in her seventies

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Monday 06 May 2019 14:40

An alleged rapist accused of kidnapping women in London and Watford has been arrested after nine more suspected victims were found by police.

Joseph McCann, 34, is being investigated over attacks on 12 women and children in London, Watford, Manchester, Lancashire and Cheshire.

The suspect was arrested in Congleton, Cheshire, after a stand-off with police in the early hours of Monday morning.

Det Ch Insp Katherine Goodwin, of the Metropolitan Police, said: “Between Sunday 21 April and Saturday 5 May McCann is suspected to have been involved in a number of attacks across different parts of the country.

“I can confirm he is now being investigated for offences committed in Cheshire, Manchester and Lancashire in addition to London and Hertfordshire.”

DCI Goodwin appealed for any further victims to come forward, and anyone who has been in contact with Mr McCann.

“At this early stage, there are believed to be nine further victims following the attacks in Hertfordshire and London,” she said.

“These attacks were grotesque and horrifying. These victims are now being supported by specialist officers. Further details concerning specific offences will become clearer in due course.”

The first reported attack was in Watford in the early hours of 21 April, when a woman in her twenties was abducted at knifepoint and raped.

Police identified Mr McCann as potential suspect but could not trace his whereabouts.

On 25 April two women in their twenties were abducted from streets in different parts of London and raped in a car, before escaping later that day.

At around 8am on Sunday, a woman in her thirties was “falsely imprisoned” in Haslingden, Lancashire.

“In the same incident a teenage girl and boy aged 11 were raped,” a police spokesperson said.

At 1.30pm on the same day, a 71-year-old woman was abducted and raped in Bury, Manchester.

Manhunt launched after two women abducted and raped in ‘random’ north London attacks

Two hours later in Heywood, Manchester, two 13-year-old boys and 13-year-old girl were abducted. The girl was sexually assaulted.

At around 6.30pm on the same day, two 14-year-old girls were forced into a car Congleton, Cheshire, but the vehicle was spotted and chased by police.

Cheshire Police said the black Fiat Punto crashed into another car and the driver fled, leaving the victims unhurt but “extremely shaken”.

He was found in a tree up a nearby country road and taken into custody after a stand-off with police.

Andrew Kidd, 75, who has a farm on Smithy Lane, said that at about 8.30pm he was told by police to stay inside his property.

“They told me go inside, lock your doors and don’t come out,” he said.

Mr McCann may have been wrongly released from prison in 2017

“There were three or four police officers in my yard and they were looking up and down, looking in the trees.

“I saw police running along the fence in a neighbouring field and the lane was full of police cars.

“The helicopter was round and my cows were stampeding because they were upset by the noise of it.

“They found him over the field where there’s a ravine and a wooded area.”

The Ministry of Justice launched an urgent review after it emerged that Mr McCann may have been wrongly released from prison.

He was freed automatically halfway through a three-year sentence for burglary and theft, but it is understood that his release should have been reviewed by the Parole Board.

Mr McCann was subject to a life-long licence after he was released from prison in 2017, having served 10 years of an indeterminate sentence for public protection for a previous aggravated burglary.

Scotland Yard offered a reward of up to £20,000 for information leading to his arrest and prosecution during a UK-wide manhunt that saw homes searched and vehicles scanned using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR).

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