Serial rapist given 33 life sentences after UK rampage while wrongly free

LONDON (Reuters) - A convicted burglar who assaulted and raped women and children during a two-week rampage across Britain while wrongly free from jail was given 33 life sentences on Monday, with the judge saying he would never cease to be a danger to society.

Joseph McCann, 34, was convicted of 37 offences relating to 11 victims aged between 11 and 71, committed in April and May this year. He kidnapped seven people during the spree.

He will serve 30 years in jail before he is considered for release. Sentencing him at London's Old Bailey Court, judge Andrew Edis said he was "a coward, a violent bully and a paedophile".

"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," he said. "You are a classic psychopath; I don't think you will ever cease to be dangerous."

The head of Britain's probation service has apologized for mistakes in McCann's case, after it emerged that McCann should have been in jail at the time of his rampage, having been caught committing a burglary while on parole for an earlier one.

Britain's system for monitoring and rehabilitating criminals has become a political issue ahead of an election on Thursday, after a convicted terrorist on parole killed two people in a stabbing attack on London Bridge on Nov. 29.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson accuses the opposition Labour Party of being soft on crime; Labour accuses the Conservative government of making the public less safe by under-funding the parole system.


HEINOUS CRIMES

McCann's attacks began on April 21, when he kidnapped a 21-year-old woman at knife point in Watford, north of London. Four days later, he kidnapped two more women in north London and subjected them to repeated rapes and sexual assaults.

They escaped when one hit McCann over the head with a bottle of vodka, but he eluded capture.

He then detained a woman in her home in northern England and sexually abused her children, aged 11 and 17, before raping a 71-year-old woman he attacked as she got into her car. He then kidnapped and sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl in the car before both escaped and alerted police.

The manhunt ended when police spotted McCann's car and cornered him hidden up a tree.

"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," Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin said. "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."


(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Peter Graff)