A man accused of a series of rapes stole a bike and climbed a tree in a bid to evade police after being caught with two girls in a car, a jury has heard.
A manhunt was launched after a string of women and children were abducted and sexually assaulted over a two-week period, the Old Bailey was told.
Joseph McCann, of Harrow, is accused of 37 offences against 11 alleged victims in London and the North West.
The 34-year-old denies all charges.
On the second day of the trial, prosecutor John Price QC told the court how the net began to close on the defendant on 5 May after two 14-year-old girls were coerced into a stolen Fiat.
The car had been taken from a 71-year-old woman who had been kidnapped and raped earlier that day, Mr Price said.
At 18:44 BST Mr McCann was captured on CCTV buying condoms at a petrol station on the Clayton Bypass just a few miles away in the Greater Manchester area.
Shortly after a police officer spotted the Fiat at a roundabout on the bypass and set off in pursuit.
The Fiat crashed into a Mercedes car and the suspect fled on foot, leaving the two “very frightened and distressed” girls in the car, jurors heard.
Mr McCann then took a mountain bike from a garden, the prosecutor said.
At about 20:15 the defendant reportedly abandoned the bike outside a restaurant in Scholar Green, Cheshire, and called for a taxi to pick him.
But police had set up roadblocks and the taxi was stopped on the A34 south of Congleton.
Officers who knew Mr McCann had a distinctive tattoo asked to see the passenger’s stomach but the man refused and ran away into fields.
A police helicopter found him hiding up a tree where he was eventually brought down at 02:36 on 6 May and arrested for rape and abduction.
Mr McCann allegedly told the officer: “If you had caught me for the first two, the rest of this wouldn’t have happened.”
The defendant, 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.
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