Serial rapist Joseph McCann has been sentenced at the Old Bailey to multiple life sentences.

A serial rapist described as a “classic psychopath” has been handed 33 life sentences for a string of horrific sex attacks on 11 women and children.

Convicted burglar Joseph McCann, 34, will serve a minimum term of 30 years in prison. 

McCann went on a cocaine and vodka-fuelled rampage two months after a probation service error saw him walk free.

Over 15 days from April 21, he abducted, raped and assaulted victims aged between 11 and 71 in London and the North West.

His chilling crimes included the kidnap of a 71-year-old woman in the car park of Ramsbottom Morrisons, raping her before abducting and assaulting a 13-year-old girl in her car before the pair escaped. 

He allegedly used a “support network” across the country to evade police, despite being identified as a suspect on the day of his first attack.

McCann, who had addresses in Aylesbury and Harrow, refused to attend his Old Bailey trial and hid under a prison blanket rather than give evidence.

It was claimed on his behalf that the women he was accused of molesting had consensual sex, but that was dismissed as “ludicrous” by victims.

On Friday, the jury deliberated for five hours to find him guilty of 37 charges against 11 victims, including eight rapes, false imprisonment and kidnap.

McCann failed to attend his sentencing on Monday at the Old Bailey, citing a “bad back”.

Mr Justice Edis sentenced McCann in his absence, saying he was a “classic psychopath”.

He said: “This was a campaign of rape, violence and abduction of a kind which I have never seen or heard of before.

“Joseph McCann, you are very dangerous indeed to people who are weaker than you.

“Among other things you are a coward and violent bully and a paedophile.

“Your grip on reality is quite tenuous, your instructions to lawyers were utterly ridiculous.

“You are entirely obsessed with yourself. In your world other people exist only for your pleasure and you have no ability to see the world in anybody’s eyes other than your own – you are a classic psychopath.”

Speaking of his victims, the judge said: “Each of these stories is tragic. I hope each will find a way to live through their ordeal and find future happiness.”

He called for an investigation into how the system “failed to protect” McCann’s victims.

In a victim impact statement, one of McCann’s victims told how her life had changed from being “thriving” to “surviving”.

The court heard he had a string of convictions in the North West and South East of England, receiving his first term behind bars at just 15.

While he had no convictions for sexual offences he did have a “history of violence and threats towards partners”, prosecutor John Price QC said.

His crimes included escaping custody by grabbing and threatening a female Group 4 security guard with a plastic knife, possessing a blade, robbery and two burglaries.

McCann was convicted of ten counts of false imprisonment, seven counts of rape, one count of rape of a child, seven counts of kidnap, one count of attempted kidnap, three counts of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, one count of sexual assault and seven other sexual offences, including two counts of committing a sexual offence with intent, three counts of assault by penetration, and two counts of causing or inciting a person to engage in sexual activity without consent.

Following the verdicts, the Probation Service issued an “unreserved” apology for a blunder which led to McCann’s release in February, halfway through a three-year sentence for burglary.

A probation officer was demoted after a Ministry of Justice review found McCann should have been immediately recalled to jail for an earlier offence.

Four men and two women have been arrested on suspicion of assisting McCann, and released under investigation.

CPS lawyer Tetteh Turkson said: “The court heard today the impact McCann’s brutal campaign of rape has had, and will continue to have, on his victims. He is a dangerous man who has shown no remorse for his cruel and sickening actions.

“He has now been given a life sentence and will serve 30 years before being considered for release. Our hope is that the victims in this case, all of whom have shown immense bravery, are now able to move on with their lives following these truly horrendous crimes.”

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “McCann’s horrific attacks on women and children have left a trail of suffering that could take years to even begin to recover from.

“While nothing can erase the experiences that McCann made his victims endure, we hope they are now receiving the help they need to move on with their lives.”

Children concerned about sexual abuse can contact Childline on 0800 1111. Adults concerned about the wellbeing of a child can phone the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 8005000.