23:51 GMT17 May 2021
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    In the early hours of 6 May 2019 Joseph McCann was arrested while hiding up a tree near Congleton, outside Manchester. His capture brought to an end to the serial rapist’s two-week reign of terror across England.

    One of Britain’s worst ever serial rapists has been jailed for life by a judge in London but told he could be released in 30 years.

    Joseph McCann, 34, kidnapped seven people - including an 11-year-old boy and raped and sexually assaulted them during a two-week reign of terror which ended when he was found hiding in a tree.

    ​It has since emerged McCann had been released from prison due to a mistake by the Probation Service.

    The judge said McCann was a “classic psychopath”, a “violent bully” and a “paedophile” but he said he was not eligible for a whole life tariff. McCann refused to appear at court during his month-long trial but gave his barrister, Jo Sidhu QC, instructions on how to conduct his case, including cross examining his victims and forcing them to answer intimate and upsetting questions.

    ​McCann, who was from the traveller community, committed offences in noth London and Hertfordshire before travelling north and raping victims in Manchester, Cheshire and Lancashire.

    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.
    Joseph McCann, who was arrested in May 2019 after a two week rape spree in England
    © Photo : Metropolitan Police
    Joseph McCann

    “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,” added DCI Goodwin.

    She accused him of “cowardice” in refusing to come to court for his trial and said it was in stark contrast the the courage shown by his victims.

    ​McCann, who had been released from prison two weeks earlier, first attacked a 21-year-old woman at knifepoint as she walked home alone from a nightclub in Watford.

    Within hours police had identified him but he remained on the loose until 25 April when he attacked two more young women, but they escaped after hitting him over the head with his own bottle of vodka.

    After further attacks in London, McCann realised the heat was on in the capital and he relocated to the Manchester area.

    On 5 May he broke into a woman’s house and raped her 17-year-old daughter and her 11-year-old son. He then raped a 71-year-old woman and sexually assaulted a girl of 13. After kidnapping two more schoolgirls, McCann’s car was chased by police but he escaped on foot. Roadblocks were put up all around the town of Congleton and he was eventually spotted in a tree.

    After a five-hour stand-off with police negotiators, he was eventually arrested at 2.30am.

    arrested, judge, Old Bailey, rape
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