Watford - rape/abduction latest
2 May 2019, 15:53 | Updated: 2 May 2019, 18:22
As the police hunt for the suspected rapist - who's accused of abducting two women from north London - before they escaped in Watford - Hertfordshire Police are now looking for a van driver - who maybe a witness.
Joseph McCann (pictured), 34, is wanted by both Herts Police AND the Met - over alleged rape and kidnap offences.
In Hertfordshire - officers are concentrating on a knife-point abduction of a 21 year-old woman - who was taken from Hagden Lane early on Easter Sunday - before being forced into a blue Ford Mondeo.
Hertfordshire Constabulary is continuing to work with the Metropolitan Police Service in order to investigate this incident and two linked cases in London. Joseph McCann, 34, has been named as wanted in connection with all three offences.
The Hertfordshire offence occurred in the early hours of Easter Sunday (21 April).
At around 3.30am, a 21 year-old woman was walking on Hagden Lane when she was approached by a man holding a knife, close to the junction with Rickmansworth Road.
She was forced into a blue Ford Mondeo and driven around Watford for some time by the offender. They drove to locations including to Watford Library on Hempstead Road where they were parked for some time and to North Western Avenue.
She was then taken to a private residential address in the town where she was raped, before being driven again in the Mondeo to the BP garage on Wiggenhall Road. The incident ended at around 9.30am when she was released by the offender.
The victim is now receiving specialist support from Hertfordshire Constabulary's Sexual Offence Investigation Team.
Shortly before this took place, a van had pulled up alongside the victim and offered her a lift, which she declined. Police are trying to trace the driver, as he may be a witness or have information that could assist the investigation
Senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Phoebe Biggs said:
"This was a horrific incident which has understandably left the victim extremely traumatised.
We would like to trace anyone who believes they may have seen a man acting suspiciously in the Hagden Lane, Rickmansworth Road areas that morning. In particular the driver of the van that offered the woman a lift shortly before she was attacked. I would like to stress, they are not a suspect, but may be a witness who can assist our investigation.
Or did you see a blue Mondeo at any of these locations listed above? Please contact us 101 or go to www.herts.police.uk/report if you think you saw it."
Watford Chief Inspector Matt Phillips said:
"I understand this incident and the linked offences that occurred in London will be of concern to the public. I would like to reassure residents that we are doing all in our power to bring the offender to justice.
We are working closely with our colleagues in the Metropolitan Police and have increased our patrols in Watford in response.
We as a Community Safety Partnership are liaising with local organisations in the town in order to gain a better understanding of the current concerns in the community and will be sharing information when we can.
We are aware that there is some speculation and rumour circulating on social media which is likely to also be fuelling concern. I would urge people to treat these with a degree of caution as much of the information is false. I would urge members of the public to go to the Met and our own website and social media for the latest information about the investigation.
Of course if you believe you are in imminent danger call 999 immediately. If you would like personal safety advice you can find it on our website here."
MET POLICE LATEST 620pm
Detectives believe a fugitive being hunted for the abduction and "horrific" rapes of three women is being hidden by a friend or family member.
Joseph McCann, 34, is believed to have snatched two women aged in their 20s off the streets in north London last Thursday, April 25, in separate incidents.
He is also suspected of abducting a 21-year-old woman at knifepoint in Watford in the early hours of April 21 and raping her.
Speaking to reporters outside New Scotland Yard on Thursday, Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin said the women are believed to have been attacked at random.
"I can only imagine the horrific impact that this would have had on the victims," she said.
"There is nothing to suggest that any of the victims were targeted. They were all selected randomly from the streets and he had abducted them in an incredibly violent manner."
She said there is no evidence to suggest McCann has left the country and she believes he is being hidden by someone he knows.
"My current belief is that he may be being hidden by a friend, family member, someone who possibly isn't aware of the full nature of his crimes and what he has done," said Ms Goodwin.
"Whatever your reason, if you are loyal to him or fearful of him, please call us, or share any information 100% anonymously via Crimestoppers.
"McCann is wanted in connection with violent, sexually motivated offences and it is vital that he be apprehended.
"Please consider if your mother, sister, daughter, niece or friend had experienced such an awful attack and put yourselves in the shoes of their family."
The Ministry of Justice has launched an urgent review after it emerged McCann may have been wrongly released from prison in February.
He was freed automatically half-way through a three-year sentence for burglary and theft but should have gone before a parole board, it is understood.
McCann is believed to have been subject to a life-long licence after he was released from prison in February 2017 having served 10 years of an indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP) for an aggravated burglary.
Scotland Yard has offered a reward of up to £20,000 for information leading to his arrest and prosecution.
Police have warned McCann is "extremely dangerous", known to use false names and may be wearing a disguise.
He is described as being muscular, about 5ft 10in, and he has a "distinctive" tattoo of the name "bobbie" on his stomach.
He is said to have blue eyes, a bald head or shaved blond hair with a light-coloured beard, and a "slight" Irish accent.
Officers said he has recently gone by the name of Joel and has links to Watford, north-west London, Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, and Ipswich in Suffolk, as well as historic family links to Manchester.
The women abducted in London were raped after being snatched by a man in a silver or grey Ford S-Max people carrier with false registration plates.
The first woman was abducted at about 12.30am on Thursday from a street in Chingford, before the second was seized around 12 hours later at 12.15pm from a street in Edgware.
One of the women may have been pregnant, The Times reported.
They were driven to a hotel where the man attempted to book a room at around 1pm. They left when this was unavailable.
The women managed to escape in Osborne Road, Watford, at about 2.30pm.
The incident has been officially linked to another attack earlier in the week which is being investigated by Hertfordshire Police.
That force said a woman was approached at around 3.30am on April 21 in Hagden Lane, Watford, driven around for six hours in a blue Ford Mondeo with false registration plates and then raped.
The incident was reported to police the following day.
On Tuesday this week, a 63-year-old woman from Aylesbury was arrested on suspicion of intimidation of witnesses in connection with the attack and released on bail. A 33-year-old man arrested on Sunday on suspicion of conspiracy to rape has been released under investigation.