Serial Rape Suspect Joseph McCann ‘Stole Bike And Hid In A Tree For Six Hours While On The Run’

The defendant faces 37 charges relating to alleged victims aged between 11 and 71.
Joseph McCann has pleaded not guilty to all the charges
Joseph McCann has pleaded not guilty to all the charges

An alleged serial rapist stole a mountain bike and climbed a tree in a desperate bid to evade police after being caught with two 14-year-old girls in the back of a car, a court has heard.

A major investigation was sparked, spanning from London to the North West, after a string of women and children were abducted and sexually assaulted over three separate days in the spring, jurors have heard.

Joseph McCann, 34, from Harrow, west London, is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of 37 charges relating to 11 alleged victims aged between 11 and 71.

The court heard that, after he was arrested, McCann allegedly told a police officer: “If you had caught me for the first two, the rest of this wouldn’t have happened.”

On the second day of his trial, prosecutor John Price QC gave an account of the dramatic events leading to McCann’s arrest on May 6.

He told jurors how the net began to close after two 14-year-old girls were allegedly coerced into a Fiat car driven by the defendant the day before.

At 6.44pm, McCann was captured on CCTV buying condoms at a Shell Petrol station on the Clayton Bypass just a few miles away in the Greater Manchester area, it was said.

Meanwhile, the girls were in the Fiat, which the defendant had allegedly taken from a 71-year-old woman who had been kidnapped and raped earlier that day.

Price told jurors: “By that time there was intense police activity in the area, bearing in mind the 999 calls that had been received during that day.

“Reports of children being taken from the street, the police having the description of [the 71-year-old’s] car. They were looking for that car.”

At 6.49pm PC Michael Jennings spotted the Fiat at a roundabout at the bypass and set off in pursuit, recording it on his dashcam.

The Fiat crashed into a Mercedes car and the suspect fled on foot, leaving the two girls behind, jurors heard.

Price said: “They were shocked, very frightened and distressed but otherwise mercifully unharmed.”

McCann ran past a man in his front garden who asked if he was alright.

The defendant allegedly replied: “Shut the fuck up,” before pedalling off on a mountain bike.

At about 8.15pm the defendant reportedly made two phone calls in a restaurant in Scholar Green, Cheshire.

He was overheard asking to speak to “Charlene” before ordering a taxi, jurors heard.

The bicycle was abandoned outside the restaurant as the defendant was picked up by the taxi, jurors were told.

Police had set up roadblocks and the taxi was stopped on the A34 south of Congleton at 8.40pm.

Price said that by then police had a name and description of the suspect and knew he had a distinctive tattoo on his stomach.

PC David Reed spoke to the taxi passenger, who was holding a pint glass and claimed he was returning home after drinking in pubs, the court heard.

When the officer asked to see his stomach, the passenger replied: “No, you’re not fucking seeing,” before jumping out of the taxi and running into fields saying “fuck you”, jurors were told.

A police cordon was placed around the field and the force helicopter was deployed.

Price said: “Police found him. He had climbed a tree. A stand-off commenced. He was eventually brought down and at 2.36am on Monday 6th May he was arrested for offences of rape and abduction.”

Police body-worn video captured the moment McCann was arrested, jurors were told.

When officers told him he was being questioned about a possible abduction “because of the kids in the car”, he is said to have told them: “I did not abduct them. Those two girls wanted a lift.”

Price told jurors the defendant refused to be interviewed after he was brought to London but made a comment to an officer who accompanied him on the journey, which “may be a little closer to the truth”.

McCann allegedly told the officer: “If you had caught me for the first two, the rest of this wouldn’t have happened.”

The court also heard how McCann told his first alleged victim that he had just got out of jail after “doing 18 years”.

It is claimed he kidnapped a 21-year-old woman as she walked home from Pryzm nightclub in Watford in the early hours of April 21.

After raping her in her own bed, he claimed she was “one of [his] 15 girlfriends” and scared her by saying he had been in prison, the court heard.

Price told jurors the evidence against the defendant was “overwhelming”.

He said it may be suggested on the defendant’s behalf that the women he was accused of assaulting had consensual sex with him.

Not guilty pleas have been entered on all the charges relating to the 11 women and children.

McCann, who is not in the dock, is charged with 10 counts of false imprisonment, seven counts of rape, one count of rape of a child, two counts of causing or inciting a person to engage in sexual activity without consent, seven counts of kidnap, one count of attempted kidnap, three counts of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, three counts of assault by penetration, one count of sexual assault and two counts of committing a sexual offence with intent.

The trial continues.


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