Serial rapist arrested in Cheshire given 33 life sentences

Joseph McCann, a serial rapist who sparked a nationwide manhunt earlier this year, has been jailed for a minimum of 30 years.

At the Old Bailey, the Judge, Mr Justice Edis, called McCann “a coward, a violent bully and a paedophile” who had carried out a campaign of rape, violence and abduction of a level he had never seen or heard of before.

“You have never expressed a word of regret or concern for your victims. You are entirely obsessed with yourself and believe you are entitled to use other people in any way you want. You think that other people exist only for your pleasure,” he said.

“You are a classic psychopath; I don’t think you will ever cease to be dangerous.”

He sentenced McCann to 33 life sentences to be served concurrently, with a minimum term of 30 years in jail.

He was also sentenced to three ten-year sentences and a 14-year sentence, all to be served concurrently with the above.

The jury unanimously found McCann guilty of all 37 charges against him following a month-long trial which concluded on Friday, 6 December.

As with the trial, McCann, 34, from Aylesbury, did not appear at court for sentencing, citing a bad back for his failure to appear.

Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin, who led the investigation, said: “McCann is one of the most dangerous offenders this country has ever seen and the sentence handed down today is a reflection of his heinous crimes.

“Although the criminal proceedings are over, we should never forget that the 11 individuals who were subjected to McCann’s completely evil actions will have to live with those memories for the rest of their lives.

“Their unwavering support for the police investigation and the evidence they gave in court meant the jury had no choice but to see McCann for the depraved individual he really was.

“I must also thank all of the officers involved in this long and complex case, from those who first responded and provided immediate support to the victims, through to the investigation team who have dedicated the last few months preparing for this trial.

“We all had one ultimate aim – to bring McCann to justice and make sure no-one else will ever have to suffer at his hands.”

During the trial, the court heard that McCann’s offending began on Sunday, 21 April when he kidnapped and raped a 21-year-old woman as she made her way home from a nightclub.

Despite ongoing efforts to locate him, McCann remained at large and on Thursday, 25 April, 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.

Following a public appeal, including the release of CCTV stills from the suspect as he attempted to book a hotel room in Watford, McCann was identified and a manhunt team put in place.

On Sunday, 5 May, McCann committed further offences in Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Cheshire against another seven victims.

At around 18:49hrs that day, officers in Congleton spotted McCann driving a car he had stolen from one of his victims and a pursuit ensued. Following a collision with another vehicle, he fled the scene on foot and managed to escape from officers.

Road blocks were quickly set up on all roads in and out of the town 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 was arrested in the early hours of Monday, 6 May.

He was later charged with 37 offences against 11 victims aged between 11 and 71.

From the point of his arrest, he refused to engage with police, with lawyers at one point having to travel to Belmarsh Prison for an earlier hearing.

The judge finished his remarks praising the bravery of all 11 victims.

“Each of these cases is tragic and I hope each victim finds a way to live through these ordeals and find future happiness,” Judge Edis said.

“The psychological harm will last for decades and may ruin their lives and those of the people around them.”

In a written impact statement read out in court, one of McCann’s victims said she no longer feels safe in the world following her ordeal.

“Since this happened, I have had to move house, which was an expensive and emotionally distressing process -  my house, my road and my neighbourhood were now full of reminders which triggered flashbacks and made me constantly feel unsafe. I felt acutely aware that everyone on my road knew what had happened,” she said.

"I am still unable to walk around after dark. I have to be picked up at the tube station to walk home in the evening. Even in the daytime I often feel jumpy and afraid, at home or outside.

"Going for a run, going out for the evening, going on holiday - doing any of these things alone is now impossible and it will take a long time to regain that freedom.

“This is a significant and limiting change in my lifestyle. I used to be very independent with no fear of going out and doing things alone. I am now much more dependent on other people.

“My life looks very different from how it once did. It has been a huge loss for me. My aspirations, both small and big, and my vision of a positive future, have been violently taken from me.

“My partner and I both exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and my sleep remains disturbed by nightmares and physical pain.

"I often feel like I'm hiding a terrible secret and I can't connect with people like I used to as a result.

“To replace a life thriving with one of surviving is deeply demoralising and difficult.

"I only hope that this process will take us one step closer to building a society in which rape and sexual assault are never excused, in which the voices of victims and survivors are heard and respected, and in which this can never happen to anyone else."

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