A man embarked on a series of “depraved” sex attacks on women and children, one as young as 11, a court has heard.
Joseph McCann is accused of 37 offences against 11 alleged victims, including rapes, kidnap and false imprisonment, over two weeks in April and May.
The Old Bailey heard the 34-year-old snatched two women off London streets and told one he would “never release her” as he raped her multiple times.
Mr McCann of Harrow denies the charges.
The jury was told the defendant’s “spree of sex attacks” started in Watford before continuing in London, Greater Manchester and Cheshire.
One 21-year-old woman was grabbed at knifepoint and bundled into a car as she walked home with her sister from a Watford nightclub on 21 April.
Prosecutor John Price QC said she was released later that morning in a “state of great distress”.
‘Rape a child’
A 25-year-old woman was abducted as she walked home in Walthamstow, east London, just after midnight on 25 April.
Mr Price said the defendant told her “to stop screaming or he would stab her” then dragged her into a car “and drove off”.
The court heard the woman was raped “many times” by Mr McCann in various locations over the next 14 hours and subjected to acts of “shocking depravity and violence”.
“He made her call him ‘daddy’ and say that she was a child. At one point the man parked the car near to a school, saying that he wanted to make her rape a child,” Mr Price said.
Later the same day, and while still holding the woman prisoner, the defendant abducted a 21-year-old woman in Edgware, north London, as she walked along the street with her sister, the court heard.
CCTV of the woman being bundled into a silver people carrier just after midday was played to the jury.
Mr Price said she “suffered a similar fate” to the 25-year-old woman before the pair managed to escape while in Watford where Mr McCann had booked a hotel room for two nights.
He told the jury they would have come to “further harm” but one of the women hit their captor over the head with a vodka bottle and some builders “bravely” intervened to prevent them being recaptured.
The attacks resumed 10 days later in the North West of England where, over 12 hours on 5 May, three women, three young girls and a boy of 11 were assaulted, the Old Bailey heard.
Mr McCann allegedly conned his way into a mother’s Greater Manchester home where he tied her to the bed and raped her 17-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son.
The court heard he then abducted a 71-year-old woman who was in her car at a Morrisons car park.
He raped her and also sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl before both managed to escape at Knutsford Service Station on the M6, the court heard.
The 34-year-old is accused of then snatching two 14-year-old girls in Cheshire.
Mr McCann, who was not in court, is charged with:
- Ten counts of false imprisonment
- Seven counts of rape
- One count of rape of a child
- Two counts of causing or inciting a person to engage in sexual activity without consent
- Seven counts of kidnap
- One count of attempted kidnap
- Three counts of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity
- Three counts of assault by penetration
- One count of sexual assault
- Two counts of committing a sexual offence with intent
The trial continues.
On Saturday afternoon, the hot water went off in Alex Milsom’s shared house in west London. Discussing the problem with his housemates on WhatsApp, one person replied: “It’s because there’s a cage on the thermostat.”
“I said I would put the water back on, but obviously I couldn’t get past the new lock box,” Alex said.
His landlady had visited the property to install a clear thermostat cover over the Google Nest thermostat – which can control heating and hot water.
“We have no idea what the temperature is,” he said. “The Nest screen only lights up when you stand up close to it, but the box has stopped that from working and we can’t see the number.”
Alex, 21, has been living with six or seven others in a semi-detached house in Ealing since August. Rented from a private landlady, he pays £700 a month, and the landlady covers his utility bills.
In a multi-occupancy dwelling like Alex’s, the landlord is permitted to control the heating, with no rules against boxing off the thermostat, experts say. The same is true of a standard rental property with fewer than three tenants, if the landlord pays the bills.
But, until now, Alex and his housemates have had control over the temperature of their home and the hot water via the thermostat in the communal kitchen.
“It’s just quite funny,” he adds.
“On Sunday night I woke up in a sweat because the heating was on, but the next morning I had to shower at work because there was no hot water,” he says. The water has since returned.
Alex shared his story on Twitter on Saturday, which went viral and prompted queries over the legality of the move.
Some landlords responded to the thread by saying the move could be understandable in a situation where tenants were being careless with the heating.
So can a landlord box off a thermostat?
David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association, says there are no rules around boxing off thermostats.
But adds: “It is a matter of good tenancy management and we encourage landlords to speak first with tenants before taking such action.
“In shared homes there can often be disputes between tenants who want the thermostat set at different temperatures.”
However, the issue is not clear cut.
A tenant has a right to heating and hot water, says Daniel Fitzpatrick, a partner at Hodge Jones & Allen solicitors.
But whether a landlord can box off a thermostat depends on the terms of the tenancy agreement.
“If the tenant is just paying a basic agreement where bills are not included, that could be why the landlord installed the fitting – usually thermostats can be covered,” he says.
“Should that not be the case, then there could be various actions against the landlord.
“It’s a basic right to be able to turn on heating and hot water, and it would be a breach of health and safety if the tenant could not.”
Housing experts from Citizens Advice say the legality of a landlord-controlled thermostat is likely to rely on whether it results in hazards – excess cold or possibly extreme heat.
According to the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), which governs housing conditions, heating can be centrally controlled by the landlord in a house in multiple occupation.
But the guidance adds that if this causes “unreasonable extremes in temperature” then this may represent a hazard – over which the local authority can take action against the landlord.
Risks of adverse health effects arise when indoor temperature drops below 19C, with serious health risks occurring below 16C, it says.
What can a tenant do if they are still unhappy?
Under the new Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, all residential tenancies after 20 March 2019 are required to be free of hazards.
If a tenant feels this is not the case they could try making a claim against the landlord.
But Citizens Advice says it is better to try to “negotiate amicably” if at all possible – “due to the limited security of tenure which private tenants tend to have” – and it warns of the risk of an escalating row.
“The tenants might consider trying to take control of the heating themselves by using electric heaters.
“There is a risk, however, that the landlord may respond negatively to a huge electricity bill, and perhaps seek to serve a section 21 notice (no fault eviction notice) to terminate the tenancy at the end of the fixed term, or seek to alter the rent or other tenancy terms as a condition of any renewal.”
A police officer has been hit by a car which had been pulled over in an “intelligence led stop” in Tottenham.
The vehicle was stopped by armed police in White Hart Lane at about 11:30 GMT and struck the officer when it was driven off “at speed”, the Met said.
London Ambulance Service said the firearms officer suffered a minor injury and had been driven to hospital.
No arrests have been made and “inquiries are under way to locate the suspects and the vehicle,” police said.
London’s trams are being fitted with automatic braking systems three years after a derailment killed seven people.
The safety measure is one of 15 recommended by the Rail Accidents Investigation Branch (RAIB) following its inquiry into the Croydon crash in November 2016.
Sixty one people were also injured when the tram, travelling at almost four times the speed limit, derailed.
TfL said the installation took three years because it “needed to be right”.
London will be the first UK tram service to have an automatic braking system.
Yellow beacons on tracks will monitor speeds and automatically apply the brakes if a tram exceeds speed limits.
The tram that crashed on a curve approaching the Sandilands stop in Croydon, was travelling at 43.5mph in a 12mph zone, investigators found.
“This is a particularly complex system where you are dealing with trams that are 20-years-old and we’re having to install something that interferes… with the acceleration and braking systems of the tram and we need to know it’s right,” said Mark Davis, Transport for London’s general manager of London Trams.
The new braking system would initially be configured for priority high-risk locations, but would be fitted in all trams by the end of the year TfL added.
Automatic braking will operate alongside another system launched in 2017 to warn of driver distraction and tiredness.
During its investigations the RAIB found the driver had taken a micro-sleep and that this was linked to fatigue.
Andy Benham, a tram driver not involved in the crash, has been using a simulator to train for the new safety system.
“It’s very reassuring. At the moment a lot of the driving is just down to the driver, so having this as a back-up in case anything should go wrong, you know you are safe,” he said.
Other safety measures include cats eyes fitted in tunnels and chevrons painted on bends to help the driver.
Extinction Rebellion activists are continuing protests despite a London-wide ban by police.
The group says it will challenge the ban, saying it believes it is unlawful. Lawyers and politicians have also criticised the move.
Meanwhile climate change protesters targeted the Department for Transport and MI5 on Tuesday morning.
A government spokeswoman said protests “should not disrupt people’s day-to-day lives”.
Extinction Rebellion’s co-founder, Gail Bradbrook, was arrested after climbing on to the entrance of the Department for Transport on Tuesday morning. Police also cleared further protesters from outside the building.
Activists have also been arrested on Millbank outside MI5’s headquarters, where a small group had gathered. Two men briefly sat in the middle of the road before being moved by officers.
On Monday evening, the Metropolitan Police began clearing protesters from Trafalgar Square following the announcement of a ban on the protests.
Under Section 14 of the Public Order Act, the force had imposed conditions requiring activists to stop their protests in central London by 21:00 BST on 14 October or risk arrest.
The Metropolitan Police said that the ban was imposed after “continued breaches” of a condition limiting the demonstration to Trafalgar Square.
Speaking to the Victoria Derbyshire programme, Extinction Rebellion campaigner and former Met Police officer Paul Stephens said: “Police are being really sloppy with the law, and it won’t stand up in court.”
He added that “there will be a judicial review”.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said he is “seeking further information” about the decision to impose the ban and why it was necessary.
“I believe the right to peaceful and lawful protest must always be upheld,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the government said the UK was “already taking world-leading action to combat climate change”.
The statement added: “While we share people’s concerns about global warming, and respect the right to peaceful protest, it should not disrupt people’s day-to-day lives.”
‘Overreach of powers’
Meanwhile, lawyers have questioned whether the ban by police was legal.
Anti-Brexit barrister Jo Maugham QC said the move was “a huge overreach” of police powers, while human rights lawyer Adam Wagner described it as “draconian and extremely heavy-handed”.
Mr Wagner added in a tweet: “”We have a right to free speech under article 10 and to free assembly under article 11 of the (annex to the) Human Rights Act. These can only be interfered with if the interference is lawful and proportionate. I think the police may have gone too far here.”
Shadow policing and crime minister Louise Haigh said it was “a grotesque overreaction and extremely worrying attack on basic civil liberties.”
Allan Hogarth, of Amnesty International, issued a statement saying the ban was “an unlawful restriction on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly”.
A number of demonstrations have been staged across the capital by Extinction Rebellion, which is calling on the government to do more to tackle climate change.
The protests were due to last two weeks and have led to more than 1,400 arrests.
The Met said there had been 1,457 arrests by 08:45 BST on Tuesday, in connection with the nine days of Extinction Rebellion protests in London.
Last week, the Home Office confirmed to BBC News that it was reviewing police powers around protests in response to recent demonstrations.
What are the rules around protests?
Police have the powers to ban a protest under the Public Order Act 1986, if a senior officer has reasonable belief that it may cause “serious disruption to the life of the community”.
Police are also under a duty to balance the task of keeping the streets open with the right freedom of assembly under the Article 11 of the Human Rights Act 1998 and freedom of expression, under Article 10. These rights are not absolute – the state can curtail them.
However, the BBC’s home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani said: “The test, if and when it gets to a court battle, is whether police action was proportionate to threat and only what was strictly necessary.”
By law, the organiser of a public march must tell the police certain information in writing six days in advance.
Police have the power to limit or change the route of the march or set other conditions.
A Section 14 notice issued under the Public Order Act allows police to impose conditions on a static protest and individuals who fail to comply with these can be arrested.
Tottenham Hotspur forward Gemma Davison damaged medial ankle ligaments in training, the WSL club has confirmed.
England international Davison joined Spurs from Reading in July as one of seven new signings for the club.
Tottenham say she will continue her rehabilitation but have not put a timeframe on how long she will be unavailable for selection.
The 32-year-old has won the Women’s Super League four times – twice with Chelsea and with Arsenal and Liverpool.
BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women’s sport available to watch across the BBC in 2019, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women’s sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.
A man has been arrested after seemingly trying to set fire to himself outside the Houses of Parliament.
The Metropolitan Police said a man had been detained under the Mental Health Act after covering himself “in what appeared to be a flammable liquid”.
The police said the man, who had a lighter, had been sprayed with a fire extinguisher and there were no flames.
Tory MP Huw Merriman, who witnessed the episode, praised the “incredibly brave response” from the police.
The Met confirmed there had been an incident in which a man had “doused” himself with an unknown substance outside Carriage Gates – the main entrance to Parliament.
The police said there had been no reported injuries and the man had been taken to hospital after being examined at the scene by the emergency services.
The London Fire Brigade, it added, had made the scene safe by dispersing the suspected flammable liquid.
The Commons and Lords are sitting this week despite the Conservative conference continuing in Manchester – after MPs voted against a short recess for the event.
Chancellor Sajid Javid is currently answering Treasury questions while ministers will later answer Urgent Questions on the government’s latest Brexit proposals, as well as homelessness and Yemen.
Boris Johnson is to call for the release of jailed British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe when he meets Iran’s president later.
The prime minister will meet Hassan Rouhani at a UN summit in New York, hours after blaming Iran for attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities.
It comes amid calls for him to take a tougher line with Tehran over its detention of dual nationals.
Mrs Zhagari-Ratcliffe has been detained in Iran since April 2016.
The 40-year-old was jailed for five years in 2016 after being convicted of spying, which she denies.
On his flight to New York on Sunday, Mr Johnson told reporters: “I will not only be discussing Iran’s actions in the region, but also the need to release not just Nazanin but others who in our view are being illegally and unfairly held in Tehran.”
Former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt suggested Mr Johnson should form a new coalition of allies at the UN to call out Iran for its “diplomatic hostage taking”.
And Mrs Zhagari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said the prime minister must tell his Iranian counterpart “enough is enough” and secure his wife’s release.
“I don’t mind how he does that, but this has gone on long enough,” he said.
“Nazanin is at the end of her tether. We have to be clear with Iran that it’s not OK to conduct hostage diplomacy.”
Mr Hunt is supporting Mr Ratcliffe’s move to launch a new campaign group made up of other families of different nationalities with loved ones held in Tehran.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it should be a priority to ensure the price of taking hostages is “too high” for Iran.
“Iran is one of the few countries in the world that seeks to settle disputes by taking hostages,” he said.
He said it is thought other countries’ citizens have been taken hostage in Iran and only by working together can countries find a solution.
“When Europe and the US go separate ways on Iran it doesn’t work,” he said.
Mr Ratcliffe said efforts by Mr Johnson to get his wife released could make amends for comments he made as foreign secretary in 2017, when he said Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in Iran teaching journalism.
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family has always insisted she was on holiday in Iran when she was arrested – and the UK government later clarified it had “no doubt” this was the case.
A number of people with dual Iranian and foreign nationality have been detained in Iran in recent years.
In August, a spokesman for Iran’s judiciary said a British-Iranian dual national, Anousheh Ashouri, had been sentenced to 10 years in prison by a court in Tehran after being convicted of spying for Israel.
British-Australian Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a Middle East politics specialist at Melbourne University, is being held on charges that remain unclear, according to the Australian government.
Australians Mark Firkin and Jolie King, who also holds a UK passport – are also being detained in Iran.
Earlier this year, the UK foreign office warned all dual nationals against travelling to Iran because of the risk of arbitrary detention.
Tensions between the UK and Iran have worsened in recent months following a row over the seizure of oil tankers in the Gulf.
The meeting between Mr Johnson and Mr Rouhani comes after the UK, France and Germany agreed on Monday that Iran was responsible for the attack on Saudi oil facilities last weekend.
Saudi Arabia has also accused Iran of carrying out the 14 September attacks, in which 18 drones and seven cruise missiles hit an oil field and processing facility.
However, Iran has denied responsibility, accusing the UK, France and Germany of “parroting absurd US claims”.
BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale said slowly and cautiously, some diplomatic pressure was being applied on Iran.
But he added there was little sign Iran was ready to make any diplomatic concessions, not least while Europe and the US appeared uncertain over how to respond to the Saudi attacks.
The government is ready to fly holidaymakers back to the UK if tour operator Thomas Cook collapses, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said.
Mr Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show contingency planning was in place to make sure no-one would be stranded.
But he dampened hopes of a government rescue bid for the firm.
Ministers did not “systematically step in” when businesses went under unless there was “a good strategic national interest”, he said.
Mr Raab said he did not want to undermine the rescue talks that Thomas Cook is currently conducting with its biggest shareholder and creditors at City law firm Slaughter & May.
The tour operator could fall into administration within days unless it finds £200m in extra funds.
The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) union, which represents Thomas Cook staff, is urging the government to step in with a bail out amid fears the company’s collapse could leave about 150,000 British tourists stranded.
Katie Prescott, business correspondent
This meeting is crucial for Thomas Cook’s survival.
If there is no agreement, then the decision to wind up the company will be taken at a Board meeting this evening. It’s likely (looking at the precedent of Monarch’s collapse) that any announcement about that will be made late at night, once all planes are on the ground. But the company doesn’t have to announce anything until the markets open at 07:00 BST on Monday.
It’s low season at the moment, the time of year when Thomas Cook has to pay its suppliers for the busy summer season just gone. Hoteliers are paid on 60 to 90-day terms, once travellers have already taken their holidays. The nightmare scenario is that hoteliers who don’t think they will get paid might turn out the people staying with them.
However, it is worth re-stating that the company is still trading. People are still holidaying with Thomas Cook. And while we can assume the company is reining back marketing activity around last-minute deals and offers, until any announcement is made, it is business as usual.
The foreign secretary said he did not want talk of contingency planning to become “a self-fulfilling prophecy”.
But he told the BBC the government had learned lessons from the collapse of the Monarch airline in 2017. The UK’s consular authorities abroad were ready to assist, he said.
A government spokesperson said: “We recognise it’s a worrying time for holidaymakers and employees.
“The financial circumstances of individual businesses are a commercial matter, but the government and the Civil Aviation Authority are monitoring the situation closely.”
‘Being held hostage’
Meanwhile, holidaymakers staying at a hotel in Tunisia owed money by Thomas Cook have reportedly been prevented from leaving the resort until it has been paid.
Guests at the Les Orangers beach resort in the town of Hammamet, near Tunis, said the hotel was refusing to let them leave because of concerns about Thomas Cook’s future.
Customers have reported that the hotel is asking visitors to pay extra money amid fears it will not be paid what it is owed by the tour operator for bookings.
Ryan Farmer, from Leicestershire, told BBC Radio 5 Live the hotel demanded all guests who were due to leave go to reception “to pay additional fees, obviously because of the situation with Thomas Cook”.
Security guards closed the hotel’s gates as guests refused to pay the extra fee, Mr Farmer claims.
He told the Stephen Nolan show: “I’d describe it as exactly the same as being held hostage.”
Thomas Cook customers have been reminded on social media that they have Atol protection – a fund paid for through industry levies – “in the event that Thomas Cook goes into administration”.
The travel firm also reassured customers on Saturday night that flights continue to operate as normal.
One of the world’s largest travel companies, Thomas Cook was founded in 1841 to operate temperance day trips, and now has annual sales of £9bn.
It employs 22,000 staff, 9,000 of whom are in the UK, and serves 19 million customers a year in 16 different countries.
There are currently 600,000 Thomas Cook customers on holiday, of which 150,000 to 160,000 are British.
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes has called on Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom to help Thomas Cook “no matter what”, saying it would save thousands of jobs.
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said “the government must consider stepping in and taking an equity stake to avoid this crisis”.
Chloe Hardy from Leicestershire is due to get married in Zante in October and booked the wedding package with Thomas Cook back in June 2018.
Chloe and her fiance will also have 33 family members flying out, with their trips costing more than £33,000 in total.
With the big day looming, Chloe is frustrated by Thomas Cook’s handling of their booking.
“We are unsure if we will be able to fly… This is causing great concern, worry and stress to all of us involved.”
Thomas Cook’s financial difficulties have mounted over the past year, culminating with the agreement in August of a rescue deal led by its biggest shareholder Fosun.
In July, it produced a business plan saying that it needed £900m in refinancing, up from a previous estimate of £150m. The £900m would come from Fosun, the group of creditors and some other investors.
The group of lenders then commissioned an independent investigation. Its financial advisers said Thomas Cook would require an additional £200m on top of the £900m already required, which would bring the total refinancing needed up to £1.1bn.
Thomas Cook succeeded in finding a backer to provide the additional £200m, but the BBC understands it has since pulled out.
The firm has blamed a series of problems for its profit warnings, including political unrest in holiday destinations such as Turkey, last summer’s prolonged heatwave and customers delaying booking holidays because of Brexit.
What are your rights?
If you are on a package holiday you are covered by the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence scheme (Atol).
The scheme will pay for your accommodation abroad, although you may have to move to a different hotel or apartment.
Atol will also pay to have you brought home if the airline is no longer operating.
If you have holiday booked in the future you will also be refunded by the scheme.
If you have booked a flight-only deal you will need to apply to your travel insurance company or credit card and debit card provider to seek a refund.
When Monarch Airlines collapsed in 2017, the government organised to bring home all the stranded passengers, whether they were covered by Atol or not.
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Protests are expected across the UK, with pupils leaving schools and workers downing tools in a bid to urge more government action on climate change.
It’s part of a global “climate strike” day, which started in Australia earlier, where organisers said around 300,000 people took part.
They are urging “climate justice” and “an end to the age of fossil fuels”.
Energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng said their voices were being heard but did not “endorse children leaving school”.
It follows earlier school strikes inspired by activist Greta Thunberg.
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- Greta Thunberg tells US politicians to try harder
The teenager, from Sweden, has described the turnout in Australia earlier as “incredible”.
She is set to join a later rally planned in New York, where world leaders will meet at the UN next week to discuss climate change.
Extinction Rebellion, which organised its own climate and environment protests in the UK earlier this year, said it stood “in solidarity” with those taking part.
It added that its members were joining the strikes and holding their own events, including a choir and “kids’ space” in Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster, and outside King’s College London.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will address the UK Student Climate Network’s Global Climate Strike in Westminster at about 13:15pm.
Mr Kwarteng told BBC Breakfast protesters’ voices were “being heard” but insisted the time spent in school was “incredibly important”.
He added: “What I do support is their energy, their creativity, and the fact that they have completely mastered these issues and take them very seriously.”