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UK's former most wanted handed 33 life sentences for string of sex attacks

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Joseph McCann was has been given 33 life sentences for his crimes
Joseph McCann was has been given 33 life sentences for his crimes   -  
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Metropolitan Police
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The UK's former most wanted criminal has been handed 33 life sentences, after he embarked on a two-week campaign of rape and kidnap, targetting women and children.

Joseph McCann sparked one of the country’s biggest ever manhunts when he went on a criminal rampage from April 20 to May 5, kidnapping and assaulting victims at knifepoint.

McCann targeted 11 victims in total, with the youngest an 11-year-old boy, and the eldest a 71-year-old woman.

Sentencing the 34 year old at the Old Bailey in London, the judge called him "a coward, a violent bully, and a paedophile".

Four of his victims were under 15 at the time of the attacks.

During the trial the court heard how he had kidnapped a number of his victims by knife-point, forcing them into his car.

Two of his victims managed to escape after one of them hit him over the head with a bottle of vodka, while another jumped out of a first-floor window, running to get help to save her mother and brother who were both trapped in their house with McCann.

The judge imposed a minimum sentence of 30 years, at which point the parole board would be responsible for any future release.

Earlier this year, Britain's Ministry of Justice admitted that McCann should still have been in prison for previous violent offences when he committed these crimes, but he was mistakenly released by authorities.

The case is likely to spark a political debate on imprisonment and the justice system, just a week after a terror attack was committed near London Bridge by a man who had benefited from early release.

McCann refused to appear in court or by video link, and had denied the charges against him.

In her sentencing remarks, the judge said it was a "campaign of rape, violence and abduction of a kind which I have never seen or heard of before".

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