Alleged serial rapist Joseph McCann has declined to come to court and chosen not to give evidence in his defence.

The 34-year-old is accused of 37 offences against 11 women and children, including rape and false imprisonment.

It is alleged that his first victim, a woman in her 20s, had been walking home after a night out in Watford on April 21 when she was abducted and then raped in her home.

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

A string of other alleged offences are said to have occurred in Lancashire and Greater Manchester on May 5, including the rape of a 71-year-old woman and the sexual assault of a girl.

On Monday, Mr Justice Edis told jurors that McCann did wish to come to court, having opted not to attend before.

But on Wednesday, defence barrister Jo Sidhu QC told jurors the defendant had "declined to come".

Mr Justice Edis said: "His absence from the trial is not evidence in the case. You must not infer from his absence that he is guilty of these offences.

"His decision not to give evidence is a separate matter and I will come to that later."

The senior judge also told jurors that they must consider the case "in an objective, calm way".

He said: "I gave you a warning that you would have an emotional reaction in this case and there is no doubt that warning turned out to be right in respect of some of what you listened to in the case.

"It was also intended to remind you and to direct you that an emotional reaction to material is unlikely to be a helpful guide to your decision-making when you come to decide the case."

The defendant, of Harrow, west London, denies the charges against him and the Old Bailey trial continues in his absence.