A man arrested over the abduction and rape of three women in and around London is being investigated for other attacks involving nine further victims.
Joseph McCann, 34, was arrested in Congleton, Cheshire, after two girls, aged 14, were abducted in the town.
He is being investigated over attacks in Cheshire, Manchester and Lancashire, on victims aged between 11 and 71.
Det Ch Insp Katherine Goodwin, of the Metropolitan Police, said the attacks were “grotesque and horrifying”.
The officer urged other victims to come forward and said police wanted to hear from anyone who had been approached by Mr McCann or in contact with him between February and May.
Mr McCann was found in a tree in Smithy Lane on Sunday evening and arrested after a stand-off with police negotiators.
He had been spotted in the town after two girls were forced into a car that afternoon.
Met detectives are now investigating him in connection with a number of other attacks earlier that day.
These include the false imprisonment of a woman in Haslingden, Lancashire, in which a teenage girl and a boy, 11, were raped and the abduction and rape of a 71-year-old in Bury, Manchester.
The suspect is also being investigated over the abduction of two 13-year-old boys and the abduction and sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl in Heywood, Manchester, at about 15:30 BST on Sunday.
Det Ch Insp Goodwin said the attacks were believed to have taken place between 21 April and 5 May.
“Detectives from the Met continue to lead on this investigation and are working very closely with policing counterparts where he is suspected to have carried out further offences,” she said.
Mr McCann was also wanted for questioning over the abduction and rape of a 21-year-old woman at knifepoint in Watford, Hertfordshire, in the early hours of 21 April.
The Met Police launched an appeal to find Mr McCann after two women in their 20s were snatched off streets in London and raped in a car in London on 25 April.
AFC Wimbledon guaranteed another season of League One football after a goalless draw at bottom side Bradford City.
Bradford’s Kelvin Mellor and Anthony O’Connor had the best chances of a quiet first half as Dons keeper Aaron Ramsdale made some smart saves.
Wimbledon came to life after the break as Joe Pigott had an effort cleared off the line and Mitch Pinnock shot wide from the edge of the box.
The Dons’ run of just one loss in their final 12 games ensured a fourth successive season in the third tier as they avoided relegation by virtue of goal difference from Plymouth Argyle.
It is a remarkable escape for the club who were 10 points from safety fewer than three months ago – but just two defeats in that time saw them climb the table and move out of the bottom four last week after a 2-1 win over Wycombe.
Meanwhile, Bradford’s disastrous season came to an end having gone through three managers and won just 11 of their 46 matches to conclude the campaign nine points from safety.
A boy who flicked a piece of cheese at a teenager with a dairy allergy who later died did not mean to harm him, an inquest has heard.
Karanbir Cheema, 13, who also had other allergies and asthma, suffered from a severe reaction at his school in west London on 28 June 2017.
He was taken to hospital in a life-threatening condition and died two weeks later.
An inquest into Karanbir’s death heard a piece of cheese landed on his neck.
A boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told Poplar Coroner’s Court he did not know why he threw the cheese, describing it as “immature behaviour.”
The court heard he was given it by a friend during break time at William Perkin Church of England High School in Ealing.
He then threw the piece of cheese at Karanbir – but said he was not specifically his target.
“After that he just said ‘I am allergic to cheese’,” the boy said.
“I apologised and went to class after.”
The boy admitted he did not know how serious allergies could be and thought they could simply cause a rash or fever.
“I didn’t mean to hurt him and obviously I feel bad now”, the boy said.
In a statement, Karanbir’s mother Rina said her son was “extremely diligent” at managing his allergies.
Informed that cheese had been put down his neck, she said a consultant at the hospital questioned this because contact through the skin would not cause such a bad reaction.
Giving evidence, Rajvnder Saini who worked at the school, said an Epipen kept in the school for Karanbir had expired in July 2016.
An email was sent to the boy’s mother in February 2017 to inform her, the court heard.
The inquest continues.
Detectives investigating the abduction and rape of two women in linked attacks have released an image of a suspect.
The first victim was taken in Chingford, north London, at about 00:30 BST on Thursday, while the second was targeted 12 hours later in Edgware.
Both women, in their 20s, escaped following a struggle in Osborne Road, Watford, at about 14:30.
A man, 33, has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to rape. The hunt for the rapist continues.
The Met Police has released images of a suspect attempting to book a hotel room in the Watford area at about 13:00 on Thursday. When one was unavailable, he left the premises.
The suspect is described as white, of muscular build, aged in his late 20s or early 30s, with a bald head or shaved blond hair and a light-coloured short beard.
He is described as having a distinctive tattoo of the word “bobbie” on his stomach.
He was believed to have been driving a silver or grey-coloured Ford S-Max people carrier, with false registration plates.
Det Ch Insp Katherine Goodwin urged the public to come forward and report any unfamiliar parked cars matching its description.
She warned people not to approach the suspect and to call 999.
“Our investigation into these appalling crimes is making good process but we urgently need the help of the public to identify and trace this man.
“It is vitally important we catch this man, and while stranger attacks of this nature are thankfully rare, we would urge people to remain vigilant.”
Kenya’s half marathon world record holder Abraham Kiptum has been suspended from competition following an athlete biological passport violation.
The 29-year-old had been due to compete in Sunday’s London Marathon.
Kiptum completed the Valencia half marathon in 58 minutes 18 seconds in October, five seconds quicker than the record set by Zersenay Tadese in 2010.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy on doping,” said London Marathon event director Hugh Brasher.
“We recently announced a groundbreaking extensive intelligence-driven testing programme. This shows the programme is working. Cheats will be caught and there is no place for them in marathon running.”
London Marathon organisers say Kiptum has left the city following the suspension issued by the Athlete Integrity Unit.
The athlete biological passport programme collects and compares biological data to spot discrepancies over time that suggest possible doping.
The build-up to this year’s marathon has already been overshadowed by a dispute between distance running greats Sir Mo Farah and Haile Gebrselassie, following an altercation surrounding an alleged theft at Gebrselassie’s hotel in Ethiopia.
In a small theatre in Oval, south London, rehearsals are taking place for a new play about boxing.
We try to enter the studios quietly, without disrupting any of the cast who are going over their scenes.
“Don’t worry, if you get in the way they’ll just punch you,” the play’s publicist says breezily.
Fortunately, we remain uninjured as a tea break is called and we sit down to talk about Fighter with its writer and star, Libby Liburd.
The rehearsals might be taking place in Oval, but the play actually opens in Stratford – a fitting location given that’s where the Olympics were held in 2012, the first year the tournament recognised female boxing.
“I think the Olympics very much elevated the sport and created a swell of interest,” Liburd tells BBC News.
“The fact they were in London was super important, there was a lot of ownership in the UK – ‘this is our Olympics’ – and then we had our UK female fighters going out and winning gold.”
That surge of attention is one factor which has arguably facilitated the new play, but its director points out the human story at the centre of Fighter is its main focus.
“It’s really about one woman and being told she can’t do something because she’s a girl,” says Julie Addy, the play’s director.
“And that’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back. She’s being underestimated in all areas of her life.”
Liburd stars as single mum Lee in the play, whose life changes when she steps into a gym run by Tommy (David Schaal, well known for playing Jay’s dad in The Inbetweeners).
“I was a boxer before I was a writer,” she explains. “I start from the point of lived experience. So Lee is a great character for me because she kind of says the things that I never felt able to say.”
The relationship between trainee and trainer has been the plotline of many a sports movie over the years – although most characters in such stories have been male.
But recently, more stories about women stepping into the ring have been making it to stage and screen.
Female fighters on screen
Million Dollar Baby – Perhaps the most famous example, this Hilary Swank film took home the Oscar for best picture in 2004. Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman also appeared in the film, the ending of which didn’t shy away from some of the dangers and consequences that can come with boxing.
The Fight – This film, released last year, was directed and written by Jessica Hynes, who also starred as the main character. Tina turns to boxing as a way to escape the anxieties of her life and improve her self-worth. The Evening Standard said it was “brave and smart to leave her comfort zone” but added the movie “could do with a bit more punch”.
Fighting With My Family – Wrestling’s biggest breakout star, Dwayne Johnson, served as a producer on this film, which told the story of a young woman named Paige (played by Florence Pugh) who lands the opportunity to try out for WWE over her brother Zak. Critics praised the unusual plotline but Empire said: “Sadly, it never punches through the tropes of the standard sport biopic.”
Glow – Netflix’s series about female wrestling stars Alison Brie and Kate Nash and has been praised for how it portrays women in the ring. “When has TV ever depicted women of every shape and hue throwing off all vanity and slamming each other into the floor with abandon?” asked The Guardian.
“I think audiences have always been interested in boxing films, you’ve got all the Rocky films, Creed, Southpaw and all of those,” says Liburd.
“So I think audiences are generally interested in boxing as a metaphor. They’re interested in the drama, they’re interested in the excitement behind it.
“And I just think that now they’ve decided to become interested in women’s stories as well. So the two kind of go together.”
She adds that the existence of so many films about men boxing has resulted in the idea becoming somewhat stale.
“I love those films, but it’s a bit of a tired formula, so people are looking for something that is fresh, that is exciting,” she says.
“In a traditional boxing film, you will see women sitting at ringside, and that is it. And maybe they cry, and say ‘I want to give up boxing!’ but we don’t see the other side, we don’t see the story of the woman that goes in the ring.”
Away from theatre and film, female boxing as a sport is attracting more interest.
The week we speak, the biggest fight in women’s boxing history has just taken place – with Claressa Shields beating Christina Hammer.
“Women’s boxing is on fire,” Shields said after her win. “I cannot wait to see the next super fight, whoever it’s between.”
Britain’s best-known female boxer Nicola Adams has previously told The Telegraph: “If we could get these sports on TV more, we could inspire more kids.”
But there are plenty of people who actively don’t want children to be encouraged to get into sports like boxing, because of the dangers involved.
Writing in The Mirror in 2016, writer and broadcaster Dr Miriam Stoppard said: “I have always thought boxing is barbaric. Is it socially irresponsible to allow it to continue? In my book, it is.
“As a society, we deplore violence yet it’s justified in the context of boxing when it would otherwise be considered a crime.”
But Liburd argues: “What we see on the TV is not a reflection of what boxing is. We see these huge pay-per-view fights that are very much controlled by money.
“And we see the blood and the guts, but actually, most boxers, spend their days running and training.
“You have to have a high level of mental discipline and physical strength to keep going with the training.
“It’s incredibly technical as well… a huge amount of it is about the footwork, learning how to move quickly on your feet. That’s why we do so much skipping.”
For director Addy, the most exciting aspect of Fighter is the fact that real-life boxers from Fight For Peace will be having real fights on stage as part of the narrative.
The London-based group, which works with young people in communities affected by crime and violence, has teamed up with the production to supply extras for the show.
As a result, young boxers will be seen fighting or training in the background of scenes on stage.
“They’re boxers, they’re not actors,” Addy says. “So what’s extremely exciting for me as a director is that we have that authentic world, Libby’s authentic experience, and then the possibilities that are afforded by theatre.
“I’m still enjoying sort of pushing at that and seeing where we can, you know, where we can meld those worlds together.”
Fighter runs from 25-27 April at Stratford Circus.
On Sunday, over 42,000 runners will stretch out their legs at the start line in Blackheath as Sir Andy Murray officially starts the 2019 London Marathon.
For many it will be the first time they take on the 26.2-mile route. For others, it’s a chance to break their personal best.
BBC Get Inspired speaks to five London Marathon runners, all with very different motivations for taking part.
The charity runner: police constable Leon McLeod
Leon was one of the first three officers on the scene at the London Bridge terror attacks on 3 June 2017. The 31-year-old from London is running for PTSD999, a charity that supports members of the emergency services who have suffered with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Although I didn’t sustain the physical injuries or worse that so many others unfortunately did, the events from that night in London have no doubt left their mark.
“I know for certain that many of my colleagues and fellow members of the blue-light family that responded to calls for assistance have been affected, but while this event was above and beyond the norm, emergency services personnel are faced with traumatic events on a daily basis all over the country. The atrocities at the Grenfell Tower fire and the terror attacks in London and Manchester in 2017 only serve to highlight this.
“It’s been a seriously difficult two years since that night at London Bridge but this is my opportunity to raise money for a charity that’s helped me and many others that I hold close.”
The first timer: Charlotte Wong
Charlotte admits she is “not a natural runner at all” – the longest distance she has ever run before has been 10k. The 27-year-old from Manchester was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago and, after being discharged from the hospital in November 2017, she decided to enter this year’s London Marathon.
“Before my diagnosis I was working hard, making my way through life as a 20-year-old woman. You then get thrown into hospital appointments, multiple procedures, surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy. My life changed dramatically.
“Thankfully, all my procedures worked and I started running again because I gained weight from the steroids and not doing anything for nine months. I saw my cousin had entered the London Marathon ballot and thought I would do that, thinking I’d never get in. But I got in, and she didn’t.
“Training has not been easy. At the start I was struggling with the pain and having to build my strength up after my treatment. But I was determined and headstrong to do it. I’ve gone from being able to only run a mile to doing 20 miles a couple of weeks out from the London Marathon.”
The blind runner: Dave Heely
As a child, Dave was diagnosed with an eye complaint called retinitis pigmentosa. Over the years he gradually lost his sight, but that hasn’t stopped the 61-year-old from West Bromwich doing what he loves – running and raising money. In 2016 he completed an astonishing seven marathons in seven days across seven continents.
“I don’t care whether you’re disabled or not, running is about improving your mental wellbeing and getting yourself out there. It’s great for your inner self – for me, it just makes me feel so wonderful.
“Being blind, I do need a guide runner and I have a selection that I’ve built up over the years. My main guide runner is Tony. He’s brilliant. He has a 40-minute drive each morning and knocks on my door at six o’clock for our 10-mile run, but he says if he didn’t have to do that he wouldn’t be out running, so we both help each other out in that respect.
“During the run, we’ll always be talking, discussing the news, what we’ve been up to. During the marathon, I’m looking forward to us having a sing-song and Tony will keep me updated on the sights around.”
The celebrity runner: Aimee Fuller (and her mum)
Team GB snowboarder Aimee is swapping the slopes for the streets of London. Earlier this month she completed her first ever marathon – in North Korea. This time, the 27-year-old from Hampshire is taking on the London Marathon with her mum.
“I’m so excited to be undergoing this journey with my mum. The opportunity came up off the back of the Winter Olympics and I said to her ‘wouldn’t it be amazing to do a marathon?’ She said ‘give me a couple of days to think about it’ then came back and said ‘if you do it, I’ll do it’.
“We all know how exercise is good for mental health – my mum is the epitome of that. She got me my Polly Pocket roller blades when I was young and could always do a cartwheel in the garden. I’m inspired by how she maintains such good motivation.
“She’s led on the mileage, which encouraged me to go further. We’ve been jostling back and forward as to who’s gone further each week. It’s 100% not about the time – it’s about doing something together.”
The serious runner: Kevin Quinn
After running the 2015 London Marathon, Kevin, 39, from Carshalton in Surrey, started feeling pains in his chest. A trip to the doctor revealed he had four holes in his heart. Since having surgery, he has gone on to break his personal bests in every race from 5k up to the marathon.
“In 2015 I was disappointed with my time of two hours 25 minutes 57 seconds. But after the doctors told me about my heart defect, they couldn’t believe how I achieved the time I did.
“Having it repaired felt like I’d been given a second lease of life and I want to make the most of this new opportunity and this new body.
“This will be my fifth marathon and I’m hoping to take a big chunk off my personal best, which is 2:24:11. The dream would be to crack 2:20. But regardless of what happens, this will be an emotional journey going back to the London Marathon for the first time since 2015.”
- Are you running the London Marathon or know someone who is? Let us know by emailing email@example.com or via #getinspired on social media.
A 21-year-old man has been stabbed to death on a high street in north-west London.
The victim is thought to have been attacked by a group of men before seeking help at a betting shop in Harlesden High Street at about 21:00 BST on Tuesday, police said.
He was taken to hospital but died at 02:47 on Wednesday. His next-of-kin have been informed.
Seven men have been arrested in connection with the attack.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said the men remained in custody, but could not confirm what offences they were being held on suspicion of.
A post-mortem examination will be held later.
There have been three other stab attacks in London since Tuesday afternoon.
The victims are a 17-year-old boy in Merton, a man in West Drayton and a 28-year-old in Wembley, who is in a critical condition.