FUGITIVE Joseph McCann has been arrested following a series of abductions and sex attacks across the UK involving at least a dozen victims.
Police confirmed the "extremely dangerous" 34-year-old – who had been described as having a "slight Irish accent" – was apprehended in Cheshire early on Monday following a two-week nationwide hunt.
McCann had been wanted over the abductions and rapes of three women in and around London in late April, and was arrested just hours after the abduction of two further victims in Cheshire on Sunday.
He is now being investigated in connection with at least seven incidents across Cheshire, Manchester, Lancashire, London and Hertfordshire on April 21, April 25 and May 5.
The spree involved a total of 12 victims aged between 11 and 71, the Metropolitan Police said.
McCann was arrested after he was recognised by a taxi driver who picked him up in Cheshire at around 8.30pm on Sunday.
The cabbie quickly realised who the passenger was despite his attempts to hide his face, and managed to get the attention of police by flashing his lights.
He pulled up next to a police car where McCann got out before fighting with officers and running off into nearby fields.
McCann was finally taken into custody at around 3am yesterday morning after police found him hiding up a tree on a farm near Congleton, Cheshire.
The Ministry of Justice has launched an urgent review after it emerged McCann may have been wrongly released from jail in February.
He was freed automatically halfway through a three-year sentence for burglary and theft, but reportedly should have gone before a parole board.
McCann was subject to a life-long licence after he was released from prison in 2017, having served 10 years of an indeterminate sentence for public protection for a previous aggravated burglary.
Metropolitan Police Commander Simon Rose urged anyone who has been in contact with McCann since his release in February to come forward.
'England is a safer place'
Cdr Rose described McCann's spree as "grotesque and appalling" and said the force was relieved he had now been detained, adding: "England is a safer place".
He said: "I think we're exceptionally relieved that he's in custody and exceptionally grateful for the help and support we've had of so many members of the public in all the calls.
"After nine hours pursuing their suspect the police tracked him to some open fields just on the northern edge of this market town.
"At one stage the man had climbed a tree to try and evade capture but trained negotiators managed to resolve the standoff.
"Shortly before 3am the teams emerged from the darkness walking along a footpath towards us and their suspect was driven away in the back of a police vehicle – his face hidden from view."
Cdr Rose said it was "impossible" to know whether there are further victims and appealed for anyone who may have been attacked by McCann to come forward.
Timeline: The incidents Joseph McCann is being linked to by police
- Sunday, April 21 (3.30am): A woman, 21, was abducted in Watford and raped in a car
- Thursday, April 25 (12.30am): A woman, aged in her 20s, was abducted in Chingford, London and raped in a car
- Thursday, April 25 (12.15pm): Another woman, also in her 20s, was abducted in Edgware, London and raped in a car
- Sunday, May 5 (8am): A woman, aged in her 30s, was falsely imprisoned at a location in Haslingden, Lancashire. In the same incident a teenage girl and a boy, aged 11, were raped
- Sunday, May 5 (1.30pm): An elderly woman, 71, was abducted and raped in Bury, Manchester
- Sunday, May 5 (3.30pm): Two 13-year-old boys and a 13-year-old girl were abducted in Heywood, Manchester. The girl was sexually assaulted
- Sunday, May 5 (6.30pm): Two 14-year-old girls were forced into a car in Congleton, Cheshire. They were not sexually assaulted as the suspect fled the scene on foot.