Joseph McCann: Suspected serial rapist may have been released from prison by mistake, says Ministry of Justice

'Extremely dangerous' criminal being hunted by police over abduction of three women

Police identify suspect accused of abducting and raping two women in London

A suspected serial rapist being hunted by police may have been mistakenly freed from prison, it has emerged.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said it had launched an “urgent” investigation into the release of Joseph McCann, who is alleged to have abducted and raped three women in London and Watford last month.

Detectives have said the 34-year-old is “extremely dangerous” and offered £20,000 reward for information leading to his arrest and prosecution.

McCann was released prison in February half way through a three-year sentence for burglary and theft.

He should have been referred to the Parole Board before being freed, but was not, the MoJ confirmed.

A spokesman said: “We have commissioned an urgent review into what happened in this case."

McCann was originally jailed in 2008 for aggravated burglary after breaking into the home of an 85-year-old man and attacking him.

He was given an indeterminate sentence – known as imprisonment for public protection (IPP) – which effectively placed him on lifelong licence after he was freed nine years later.

That meant the Parole Board should have been required to sign off his release after he was jailed again in July 2017. Instead he was freed automatically earlier this year at the half-way point of his sentence.

Weeks later, on 21 April, he is suspected to have snatched a 21-year-old woman at knifepoint in Watford and raped her.

Scotland Yard issued a public appeal to find McCann after two more women were abducted and raped in London last week.

Detectives are searching for 33-year-old Joseph McCann (pictured) who has been named as a suspect after two women were abducted from streets in north London and raped.

He is described as being muscular, about 5ft 10in, and having a "distinctive" tattoo of the name "bobbie" on his stomach.

He is said to have blue eyes, a bald head or shaved blond hair with a light-coloured beard, and a "slight" Irish accent.

Detectives said he had recently gone by the name of Joel and has links to Watford, northwest London, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, and Ipswich in Suffolk.

The women abducted in London were attacked after being snatched by a man in a silver or grey-coloured Ford S-Max people carrier with false registration plates.

If you have been affected by sexual violence, you can find help via the NHS. Rape Crisis offers specialist support for women and girls; and The Survivors Trust supports people of any gender

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