Joseph McCann was found guilty of 37 offences at the Old Bailey and sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison.

He was given 33 life sentences following a string of sex attacks on 11 women and children across England.

I have now been instructed to pursue claims on behalf of the victims and will work alongside Nicholas Bowen QC of Doughty Street Chambers who is a leading expert in this area of work.

Claims are to be brought for damages against the Probation Service for negligence, breach of duty and breach of the Human Rights Act.

McCann should never have been free to attack his victims. He had been given an IPP sentence designed to protect the public from serious offenders. He had been released on licence and reoffended committing a burglary in 2017. That burglary should have triggered a recall to prison on the terms of his IPP sentence. He would not then have been released until such point as he could have completed a Parole Board assessment and satisfied them that he was no longer a risk.

This did not happen. Instead of being recalled to prison on the terms of his IPP sentence he was tried for the burglary offence and given a determinate sentence which resulted in him being released at the midpoint. The Judge in his criminal case highlighted this as an issue. Judge Foster said in the Luton Crown Court that McCann should have been referred to the Parole Board and recalled.   Despite this the Probation Service failed to take appropriate action.

As a result of the failings four Probation Officers from the Watford office face disciplinary proceedings. Dr Jo Farrar, Chief Executive of HM Prisons and Probation Service acknowledge following the Trial that there were failings and apologised unreservedly.

The victims now seek damages for the preventable sexual assaults that they suffered. This is a complex area of work with conflicting authorities in relation to the extent of the duty of care owed by the Probation Service to members of the public such as the victims of McCann. The same legal team have already acted in one of the leading cases in this area and now hope to successfully secure damages for McCann’s victims.

Farleys specialist abuse team can be contacted in confidence on 0330 134 6430 or contact the team by email.