Serial child rapist Joseph McCann was released despite writing he wanted 'clean young girls' in prison letter

The 34-year-old serial predator, during two-week cocaine and vodka-fuelled rampage, abducted 11 victims at knife-point

                            Serial child rapist Joseph McCann was released despite writing he wanted 'clean young girls' in prison letter
Joseph McCann (Metropolitan Police)

Joseph McCann was in jail for aggravated burglary when he wrote a number of disturbing letters — including one saying he wanted "clean young girls" — before he was freed from prison due to a probation service error and went on a horrific rape spree. The 34-year-old serial predator, during two-week cocaine and vodka-fuelled rampage last year, abducted 11 women and children at knife-point across London, Watford, and the North West.

After carrying out a burglary on license, McCann should have technically been recalled to prison. However, he was given a fixed-term instead and released from custody half-way through without the involvement of the Parole Board. Following his release, he was seen by probation officers 10 times in two months — the last visitation being in April last year shortly before he carried out the first rape.

Now, a shocking report has found that McCann was freed due to ‘major failings’ by an ‘unstable’ team of inexperienced probation staff, according to Metro. The sex offender was handed 33 life sentences with a minimum term of 30 years in December for his crimes. Years earlier, officials were already warned that McCann "bore the hallmarks of a sex offender". Probation officers reportedly missed eight chances thereafter to keep him locked up.

An independent review of the case was conducted by Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell on Justice Secretary Robert Buckland's request.

Russell said in the first of two reports that there were "major failings" in the way the case was handled. "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," he wrote. The report made "distressing reading", according to Alan Collins, one of the lawyers representing McCann’s victims. In a bid to ensure that such blunders never happen again, Collins called for dangerous offenders to be ‘red-flagged’ across the justice system.

According to the report, McCann had a long history of "serious offending" and breaching court orders. And over 11 years, he saw three different probation officers responsible for his case in the months leading up to his February 2019 prison release. "There were signs that he posed an increasing risk to the public. There was evidence of his potential for sexual offending," Russell said.

Among the troubling findings in the report are details of ‘graphic’ letters McCann wrote to relatives in 2009 before they were intercepted by prison staff. “They included threats of sexual violence and referred to wanting a ‘clean young girl’ on release,” the report said. McCann also attempted to escape from prison that year and was moved to a maximum security facility after he failed to do so. Russell said in his report that crucial information was "lost" in handover between staff after it was recorded on different systems by various authorities over the years. "Most worryingly," he noted, prison officers identified only in 2013 that McCann "with the collusion of his family – was attempting to find a 'young girl'." Russell also said probation staff did "not have a clear picture" of who they were dealing with because "key intelligence" was not passed to them. They were thus making decisions based on "inadequate" assessments. Furthermore, the report added that McCann's ability to manipulate staff was "underestimated" and the threat he posed to the public downgraded "too soon" following his 2019 release.

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