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Joseph McCann: Alleged rapist 'hid in tree to evade police'

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Media captionRape accused captured on CCTV at a petrol station

A man accused of a series of rapes stole a bike and climbed a tree in a bid to evade police after being caught with two 14-year-old girls in a car, a jury has heard.

A manhunt was launched after a string of women and children were abducted and sexually assaulted over a two-week period, the Old Bailey was told.

Joseph McCann, of Harrow, is accused of 37 offences against 11 alleged victims in London and the North West.

The 34-year-old denies all charges.

On the second day of the trial, prosecutor John Price QC told the court how the net began to close on the defendant on 5 May after two 14-year-old girls were coerced into a stolen Fiat.

The car had been taken from a 71-year-old woman who had been kidnapped and raped earlier that day, Mr Price said.

That evening Mr McCann was captured on CCTV buying condoms at a petrol station on the Clayton Bypass in Cheshire.

Shortly after a police officer spotted the Fiat at a roundabout on the bypass and set off in pursuit.

The Fiat crashed and the suspect fled on foot, leaving the two "very frightened and distressed" girls in the car, jurors heard.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Joseph McCann is accused of 37 offences against 11 alleged victims

After stealing a mountain bike and riding it to restaurant in Scholar Green, Cheshire, he called for a taxi, the prosecutor said.

But police had set up roadblocks and the taxi was intercepted on the A34 south of Congleton.

The man fled into fields and police helicopter found him hiding up a tree where he was eventually brought down at 02:36 on 6 May and arrested for rape and abduction.

Mr McCann allegedly told the officer: "If you had caught me for the first two, the rest of this wouldn't have happened."

Jurors were also shown a video interview with a woman who reported being "raped and kidnapped at knifepoint" by a man who told her he had just got out of jail "after doing 18 years".

The 21-year-old was kidnapped by the defendant as she walked home from Pryzm nightclub in Watford in the early hours of 21 April, prosecutors allege.

She said: "I felt the knife and he put his arm round me so I couldn't move. The knife is at my neck. I felt it, it was sharp.

"He told me to shut up and walk to the car...I think he slapped me in the face because I was crying."

The woman said he drove around and told her she had to "join the firm", before taking her back to her flat, where she was raped.

She said: "He kept saying I was one of his 15 girlfriends and I would get on with his wife and kids."

The defendant, who was not in court, is charged with:

  • Ten 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
  • Two counts of committing a sexual offence with intent

The trial continues.

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