Friday 23 August 2019

Police launch manhunt for 'suspected serial rapist' after two more women abducted in UK

Joseph McCann is wanted
Joseph McCann is wanted Newsdesk

Fugitive Joseph McCann, who is being hunted for the abduction and “horrific” rapes of three women in the UK, is believed to be connected to the abduction of two other women in Congleton tonight, Cheshire Police said.

The 34-year-old is wanted over the abduction of two women aged in their 20s who were separately snatched off the streets in north London on Thursday, April 25.

McCann - who police have described as having a "slight" Irish accent - is also suspected of snatching a 21-year-old woman at knifepoint in Watford in the early hours of April 21 and raping her, Hertfordshire Police said.

This evening, the two victims were forced into a black Fiat Punto at around 6.45pm on Sunday in Congleton town centre, Cheshire.

Police officers spotted the car a short time later and following a pursuit, the car collided with another.

It is understood the driver fled the scene on foot, leaving the two women behind in the car.

Officers now believe Joseph McCannis connected to this incident as well.

They have launched a massive appeal and manhunt to find him.

It is understood he was released on life-long licence from prison in February 2017 after serving 10 years of a now-scrapped indeterminate sentence for an aggravated burglary.

He was jailed again the same year for theft and burglary but is believed to have been mistakenly released automatically half-way through his three-year sentence.

It should have been up to the parole board to decide whether he was released or stayed behind bars because he was still subject to licence.

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

Scotland Yard has offered a reward of up to £20,000 for information leading to his arrest and prosecution.

Police have warned McCann is "extremely dangerous", known to use false names and may be using a disguise.

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.

Officers said he had recently gone by the name of Joel and has links to Watford, north-west London, Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, and Ipswich in Suffolk.

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

The first woman was abducted at about 12.30am on Thursday from a street in Chingford, before the second was seized around 12 hours later at 12.15pm from a street in Edgware.

One of the women may have been pregnant, The Times reported.

They were driven to a hotel where the man attempted to book a room at around 1pm. They left when this was unavailable.

But the women managed to escape in Osborne Road, Watford, at about 2.30pm.

They were both "traumatised" by the ordeal and have been receiving support from specialist officers, police said.

The incident is further being linked to another attack earlier in the week which is being investigated by Hertfordshire Police.

The force said a woman was approached at around 3.30am on April 21 in Hagden Lane, Watford, driven around for six hours in a blue Ford Mondeo and then raped.

The incident was reported to police the following day.

Hertfordshire Police named McCann on its Facebook page on Thursday as being wanted on recall to prison without mentioning the rape.

A force spokesman said: "He was named as wanted on recall to prison on our Facebook page on Thursday April 25. This is a complex inquiry and we were actively pursuing numerous, significant lines of inquiry throughout the week in order to trace and arrest the suspect.

"It is normally only when we have exhausted those inquiries do we put out a wanted appeal. We are continuing in our efforts to trace him and we are working closely with the Metropolitan Police Service."

PA Media

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News