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Joseph McCann: Serial rape accused refuses to appear in court

Joseph McCann Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Joseph McCann is due to appear next at the Old Bailey on 26 July

A man accused of 21 offences including eight rapes across England has refused to attend a plea hearing at the Old Bailey.

Joseph McCann, 34, was due to appear via video-link from Belmarsh Prison.

But he did not appear on the screen and a dock officer confirmed he had refused to leave his cell.

Mr Justice Edis set a provisional six-week trial at the Old Bailey to start on 11 November.

He indicated that Mr McCann should be informed that, if he chose not to attend his trial, it would happen in his absence.

Eight 'victims'

A plea hearing has been set for 26 July.

Mr McCann is charged with 21 offences against eight people, aged between 11 and 71, over a two-week period between 21 April and 5 May.

Mr McCann, from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, was arrested near Congleton, Cheshire, just over two weeks after he is alleged to have abducted a woman in her 20s in Watford before raping her in her home.

Two other women, who are in their 20s, were allegedly separately snatched off streets in Chingford and Edgware, London, on 25 April before being raped in a car.

A string of other alleged offences is said to have happened in Lancashire and Greater Manchester on 5 May, including the rape of a 71-year-old woman and the sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl.

Mr McCann faces eight counts of rape, four counts of kidnap, two counts of false imprisonment, two counts of engaging in non-penetrative sexual activity, two counts of sexual assault by penetration, one count of inciting a boy under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity, one count of engaging in non-penetrative sexual activity with a girl aged 13 to 15, and one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

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