British rapist, kidnapper found guilty on 37 criminal counts

Joseph McCann, who became the most wanted man in Britain earlier this year — after he was mistakenly freed from prison and committed a string of rapes and abductions — was found guilty of 37 criminal charges by a London jury Friday.

McCann, 34, was convicted on multiple counts of rape, sexual assault, kidnapping and false imprisonment in connection with the sex attacks against women and children in April and May. His 11 victims ranged from an 11-year-old boy to a 71-year-old woman.

The jury at London’s Old Bailey court took less than six hours to reach the verdict Friday. The judge in the case, Andrew Edis, said he’s considering life in prison for McCann, who will be sentenced Monday.

Edis said he will demand an explanation for why McCann was mistakenly freed from prison in February before the attacks began, even though he was serving an “indeterminate sentence” for previous violent crimes.

“Indeterminate” sentences, handed down in extreme cases to protect the public, carry a lifetime requirement for a parole board assessment before the prisoner can be deemed eligible for release. McCann, however, was given an automatic release without receiving such an assessment, prison officials said. He then became the subject of an intense manhunt, and police ultimately caught him hiding in a tree.

“We recognize that there were failings and we apologize unreservedly for our part in this,” said Jo Farrar, the chief of Britain’s Prisons and Probation Service. “We are committed to doing everything we possibly can to learn from this terrible case.

“These were appalling crimes and our thoughts and sympathies are with the victims and their families.”

ByDon Jacobson