Serial rapist Joseph McCann - described as "pure evil" by one victim - has been found guilty of rapes and sexual assaults on multiple women and children.

The 34-year-old, from Aylesbury, was convicted of 37 offences relating to 11 victims, aged 11 to 71. 

McCann refused to appear at court for the duration of the month-long trial and the jury unanimously found him guilty of all counts.

He will be sentenced at the same court. The date is to be confirmed.

His first victim, a 21-year-old woman, had been walking home after a night out in Watford on April 21 when she was abducted and then raped in her home.

Joseph McCann

He then snatched two other women in their 20s in Walthamstow and Edgware on April 25 before raping them in a car.

He committed a strong of other offences in Lancashire and Greater Manchester on May 5, including the rape of a 71-year-old woman and the sexual assault of a girl.

McCann was arrested in the early hours of May 6.

Jurors have publicly praised the bravery and courage of his victims.

The seven men and five women on the panel at the Old Bailey trial took the unusual step of passing a note to trial judge Mr Justice Edis asking him to place on record their sentiments.

The note said: "The jury want to acknowledge the bravery of all the victims in this case and the courage it has taken for them to come forward."

The judge said he would offer his own remarks when McCann is sentenced on Monday.

It took the jurors five hours to consider the 37 charges against 34-year-old convicted burglar McCann, unanimously convicting him of each offence.

McCann was again absent from court, as he had been throughout the trial, save for a couple of appearances without the jury being present.

The Ministry of Justice has also launched an inquiry into why McCann was not recalled to prison after committing a burglary following his release from an indeterminate sentence for aggravated burglary.

Instead, McCann was automatically freed having served half of his sentence on February 15.

It is understood one Probation Service worker was demoted as a result of a review of four staff who had direct contact with McCann.

Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin, who led the investigation, applauded the bravery of McCann's victims for reliving their ordeal in court to bring him to justice.

She said: “One of the victims described looking into McCann’s eyes as he attacked her and seeing pure evil; anyone who sat through the trial and listened to the evidence can have no doubt she was right.

“This case is one of the most shocking I have ever worked on and is made all the worse by the fact McCann forced all of his victims to re-live their ordeal in court by failing to admit his guilt, despite the overwhelming evidence against him.

“His cowardice in refusing to come to court is in stark contrast to the bravery of those he kidnapped and assaulted and we must never forget their vital role in bringing him to justice.

“We know their lives can never be the same but we hope that today’s verdict and the custodial sentence McCann will receive can provide them with some form of closure. It also demonstrates the clear commitment of officers up and down the country to secure justice for all victims of sexual offences."

DCI Goodwin added: “From the moment of his first offence, McCann did everything he could not to be caught and had changed his appearance, given false names and used different cars in order to evade the law.

“Added to that, he had been assisted by a number of people who knew where he was – and that police were looking for him – who decided to help him remain at large and free to attack again.

“Despite these extensive efforts, the work of our dedicated officers and their unwavering commitment to getting justice for each and every victim in this case means he will never again be able to inflict this kind of pain and distress.”

It can now be revealed that six people had been arrested and released under investigation on suspicion of assisting McCann.

They include four men, aged 27, 30, 34 and 66, and two women, aged 32 and 64, who were arrested at addresses in Cheshunt, Watford, Aylesbury and Birmingham.

CPS prosecutor Tetteh Turkson said: “Joseph McCann behaved with shocking depravity. He preyed on women and young children with regard only for himself. His victims endured horrifying acts of sexual violence and were subjected to a truly terrifying ordeal.

“It was through persistence and bravery that some of them managed to escape. They showed great strength of character in recounting their stories to police and giving evidence to the court; reliving some of what must have been the darkest moments of their lives. It is with the power of this evidence, and the courage of the victims in giving evidence, that Joseph McCann has been convicted of his crimes.

“The prosecution case against McCann also included hundreds of witness statements, CCTV footage showing McCann’s movements and forensic evidence collated from different police forces across the country, working together to get justice. I hope today’s verdicts provide some comfort to the victims and allows them to focus on moving on and rebuilding their lives.”

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “McCann is an exceptionally dangerous individual whose evil abuse and depraved attacks have inflicted unimaginable pain and suffering on a number of women and children.

“Sexual abuse can have devastating long-lasting effects and we hope all of McCann’s victims receive all the support they need to help them recover from these horrific experiences.”