Police hunting “extremely dangerous” fugitive Joseph McCann over the kidnap and rape of three women have arrested a man after a stand-off with officers overnight following a new abduction.
Residents described how police descended en masse on a rural lane near Congleton in Cheshire after the 34-year-old suspect fled up a tree.
Two teenage girls were earlier forced into a car in the Cheshire town.
The black Fiat Punto made off from the town centre at around 6.45pm but was spotted and pursued by officers before it hit another car and the driver fled, leaving the victims unhurt but “extremely shaken”, Cheshire Police said.
#BreakingNews -Officers investigating the abduction of two women have located a man in connection with the incident. The man has been secured by officers in a rural area of Congleton and is currently talking to trained negotiators. https://t.co/BB1VvGD4ep pic.twitter.com/CUHIBcsqBE
— Congleton Police (@PoliceCongleton) May 5, 2019
The suspect was found in the tree in Smithy Lane, a country road just outside the town, following road checks and closures.
Negotiators and paramedics were deployed and he was eventually taken into custody at around 3am on Monday morning.
Scotland Yard detectives launched a hunt for suspected rapist and kidnapper McCann after he snatched two women in their 20s off the streets in north London on April 25 in separate incidents.
The 34-year-old is also suspected of abducting a 21-year-old woman at knifepoint in Watford in the early hours of April 21 and raping her.
Cheshire resident Robert Burns watched the scene unfold after police officers had checked his outbuildings and wheelie bins in search of the suspect.
The 45-year-old said: “I went out to speak to the police.
“They did a superb job and were very thorough. They made sure the residents were kept informed.
“We watched it all from upstairs. It was a long time, it went on for about three hours.
“It was significant police presence, there were a lot of cars, all of the roads were closed.”
— NPAS Barton (@NPASBarton) May 6, 2019
Andrew Kidd, 75, who has a farm in Smithy Lane, said that at about 8.30pm on Sunday he was told by police to stay inside his property.
“They told me there is a very violent person about who has absconded and he’s very dangerous so go inside, lock your doors and don’t come out,” he said.
“There were three or four police officers in my yard and they were looking up and down, looking in the trees.
“I saw police running along the fence in a neighbouring field and the lane was full of police cars.
“The helicopter was round and my cows were stampeding because they were upset by the noise of it.
“They found him over the field where there’s a ravine and a wooded area. He must have ran across the field to get there because the footpath is closed off while they’re working on the new road.”
A woman living nearby, who did not wish to be named, said: “There was a lot of police activity around.
“We saw the police helicopter. There were police cars up and down the road.”
Asked if she found the situation unnerving, she said: “Of course it is. When you find yourself in the middle of something like that you’re bound to wonder what’s going on aren’t you?”
Ann Marie Baylan, 53, said she was at home with her children when police arrived on Lomas Way – a new housing estate which is separated from Smithy Lane by a large field.
She said: “There were loads of police cars and a pick-up truck with police officers in, I’m not sure if they were the negotiators.
“They parked on the road but went into the field. They arrived about 8pm and it seemed to quieten down about 11pm.
“The thing is you go online and know what’s happening, who he is and what he’s done so it is a bit scary but we just locked the doors.
“We watched from the window upstairs.”
Another neighbour on Lomas Way reported seeing lights on the field at about 2am.
One man said he was watching Antiques Roadshow with his wife when they heard the helicopter circling.
He said: “We saw police down the road and they put a road block at the top of it to stop traffic.”
Officers believe McCann was being hidden by a friend or family member.
The Ministry of Justice launched an urgent review after it emerged McCann may have been wrongly released from prison.
He was freed automatically halfway through a three-year sentence for burglary and theft – but should have gone before a parole board, it is understood.
McCann was subject to a life-long licence after he was released from prison in 2017 having served 10 years of an indeterminate sentence for public protection for a previous aggravated burglary.
Scotland Yard offered a reward of up to £20,000 for information leading to his arrest and prosecution.