Serial rape and kidnap suspect Joseph McCann refuses to appear in court by videolink from Belmarsh prison to enter pleas on series of sex assaults across UK
- Joseph McCann, 34, is accused of a nationwide spree of rapes and sex offences
- He allegedly raped or assaulted victims from 11 to 71 years old in April and May
- McCann was arrested up a tree in Congleton, Cheshire, after a police manhunt
- But he has now three times refused to leave his Belmarsh cell to appear in court
Joseph McCann faces charges of rape and kidnap but refuses to attend court
Accused rapist and kidnapper Joseph McCann has refused for the third time to appear in court today to enter pleas over a series of sexual assaults across the UK.
McCann, 34, allegedly carried out the attacks in Cheshire, Manchester, Lancashire, London and Hertfordshire between 20 April and 5 May.
He was arrested following a nationwide manhunt on May 6 after a stand-off between police just outside the Cheshire town of Congleton where he was found up a tree.
He refused to appear for his first court appearance back in May so the judge took the unprecedented step of conducting the hearing in McCann’s cell in Belmarsh prison.
The alleged serial rapist again declined to leave his cell for another hearing at the Old Bailey later that month.
The court artist captured Mr Justice Eady reading a statement to an empty chair, guarded by court security
Today he was due to appear in court for a video-link hearing to enter pleas to 35 offences against 11 alleged victims, aged between 11 and 71.
Jo Sidhu QC, defending, told the court: ‘I am afraid with some regret he is not making an appearance by video-link today.
‘We have invited the court clerk to make enquiries at Belmarsh as to whether it was likely he might. In fact, yesterday we saw him and he made it clear that he had no intention of appearing by video-link.’
But he told the court McCann was co-operating with his defence team.
The judge, Mr Justice Edis, said the case will ‘proceed on the basis it is going to be a trial on all counts’ with not guilty pleas likely to be entered on the first day of his trial in November.
He added: ‘The defendant needs to understand – and unfortunately he is not able to understand it directly from me but I am sure it will be communicated to him by his legal team – that if he chooses deliberately to absent himself from any part or all of his trial it will proceed in his absence, and that is how it will be.’
Mr McCann is pictured in a petrol station after he allegedly snatched a woman at knife-point in Watford
McCann is accused of kidnapping some of his alleged victims, three of whom are under 18, before sexually abusing them.
During one alleged incident, McCann is said to have tied a woman up in her own home and committed sexual offences, including rape, against her 17-year-old daughter and son, 11.
McCann is also alleged to have abducted a woman in her 20s in Watford before raping her in her home.
Two other women, who are in their 20s, were allegedly separately snatched off the street in Chingford and Edgware, on 25 April before being raped in a car.
A string of other offences are said to have occurred in Lancashire and Greater Manchester on 5 May, including the rape of a 71-year-old woman and the sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl.
McCann, of Aylesbury, Bucks, will remain in custody until his trial, which is estimated to last up to six weeks, beginning on 11 November.
He faces seven counts of rape, one count of rape of a child under 13, seven counts of kidnap, one attempted kidnap, 10 counts of false imprisonment, three counts of assault by penetration, three counts of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, one count of sexual assault and two of causing a person to engage in sexual activity without their consent.