A SERIAL rapist carried out a sex attack spree once freed from prison after 'major failings' by a team of 'unstable' and inexperienced probation staff, inspectors have found.

Joseph McCann was given 33 life sentences and jailed for a minimum of 30 years in December for the string of attacks on 11 women and children last year.

McCann, a convicted burglar, went on a cocaine and vodka-fuelled rampage, abducting, raping and assaulting victims aged between 11 and 71 in Watford, London, Lancashire and Greater Manchester, over 15 days in April and May 2019.

On May 5, 2019, McCann tricked his way into the home of a woman after meeting her at the Live Lounge bar in Haslingden. He tied her up and molested her children, aged 17 and 11.

But officials were warned as early as 2011 that he had the hallmarks of a sex offender - and later probation officers missed eight chances to keep him behind bars.

Speaking in March, the 17-year-old victim said the probation service 'failed' to keep her and her family safe.

She said: “He has previous for sexual abuse and nothing was acted on. Before any of this happened I had a lovely home, a close family and a really good job. After this happened I lost everything, including my family home of 12 years and my relationship with my family.

“I struggle to sleep each night and live in fear. I can’t be in places on my own and my confidence has gone down since the incident. My whole life will be controlled from what happened, living in constant fear of everything.”

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland asked Chief Inspector of Probation, Justin Russell, to carry out an independent review of the case.

In the first of two reports from the review, Mr Russell said there were 'major failings' in how McCann was supervised and this was carried out by an 'unstable team' of staff.

McCann saw 10 staff over 11 years with three different probation officers responsible for his case in the months leading up to his prison release in February 2019.

An internal review published by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in March laid bare the errors made in the case, including repeated failures to recall him to prison despite officials warning of the risks he posed.

Described by his sentencing judge as a 'classic psychopath', the 34-year-old had been freed after a probation service error two months before he embarked on the rampage.

Had he been recalled to prison, he would have been kept behind bars until the Parole Board decided he was safe to release. Instead, he was automatically freed from jail after serving his term.

He was seen by probation officers 10 times in two months since his release, the last in April being just days before he carried out the first rape.

Detective sergeant John McNamara, an East Lancashire detective who helped put McCann behind bars, previously said the level of violence used during the attacks was some of the worst he has come across in his career.

A jury found McCann guilty of 37 charges relating to 11 victims, including eight rapes, false imprisonment and kidnap.

Mr Russell said: “McCann was managed by an unstable team, lacking experienced and skilled practitioners. They suffered from poor management oversight, high workloads, poor performance and high staff turnover.”

McCann had a 'long history of serious offending' and breaching court orders, he said, adding: “There were signs he posed an increasing risk to the public. There was evidence of his potential for sexual offending.”

Crucial information, recorded on different systems by various authorities, was 'lost' in handovers between staff, Mr Russell said.

But 'most worryingly' prison staff did not share information about the risk posed by McCann with probation, meaning probation staff did 'not have a clear picture' of who they were dealing with and were making decisions based on 'inadequate' assessments.

Another “key element” of planning for such a high risk offender to leave prison was making sure he had suitable accommodation.

He should have been given a bed in a bail hostel, known as approved premises, where he could be monitored by probation after being freed.

But after probation officers twice “tried, and failed” to get him a space he was instead allowed to live with family where he could not be monitored closely, Mr Russell said.

Among 13 recommendations made to the Prison and Probation Service and the National Probation Service, Mr Russell called for more beds at approved premises.

Mr Russell added: “Probation staff must have the right skills, knowledge and experience to support rehabilitation and protect the public.”

One member of staff was demoted over the case.

The second part of the review is due to be published in the autumn.