Joseph McCann “zoned out” and cowered under a blanket on the floor of his cell rather than face jurors in court, it can now be reported.
The 34-year-old serial rapist had refused to attend hearings following his arrest in May and not guilty pleas were entered on his behalf.
His lawyer Jo Sidhu QC had advanced his case the victims had consensual sex but McCann failed to back up his claims by giving evidence.
At the 11th hour, McCann, who was being held at Belmarsh jail, appeared to change his mind as the prosecution closed its case.
On Monday, December 2, the trial was brought to a halt as Mr Justice Edis attempted to engage with him.
McCann asked to adjourn the trial, citing his treatment in prison as a reason he was not ready.
He appeared via video link from jail with a long greying beard, bald head and wearing a grey prison robe.
McCann told the judge: “I have always wanted to give evidence. I have always wanted to come to court.”
Mr Justice Edis said: “So would you like to come to court and give evidence?”
The defendant replied in an Irish accent: “Yes. But you need to understand everything that the solicitors have been telling you is the truth.
“At this point at the moment I have not eaten for seven days. I have not showered for nine days.
“I’m in a hell of a bad state. I have not prepared a full defence because I have been sleep deprived.
“There is a hell of a lot more that I have got to say.
“I wanted to come to court this morning but I got told I was not allowed to go in the clothes because at the moment I am stripped naked.”
Asked if he had any clothes to put on, McCann said: “It’s like a rag, a bandero.”
The judge pressed: “But you do own clothes?”
McCann replied: “Yeah, I do own some clothes. I wanted to come to court this morning and show the world what is going on in here so I refused to go in prison clothes.”
The judge said: “You understand what I am concerned with is the trial and whether you are in a position to give evidence in the trial?”
McCann ranted: “If I go to court there is a smell of shit on me that would kill a horse.
“If I give evidence in court now I will be found guilty. The only reason I came to court was to get an adjournment to prepare a defence.
“If I commit suicide it will come out at my inquest. It will be a mistrial. It does not really bother me either way to be honest.”
The following day, Mr Justice Edis rejected an application by McCann’s lawyer to adjourn for a week, after the defendant again failed to attend, despite assurances he would.
The Belmarsh duty governor told the court: “I attended at his cell. He was laid on the floor which is where he has been sleeping at the moment on the mattress.
“I asked him if he was intending to attend court this morning. He replied ‘No’. I asked him if there is any reason. He said ‘it’s because of what they are writing about me in the media’.
“He just laid back down and covered himself up with the blanket.”
The court heard McCann had no access to the internet in prison but could listen to the radio.
Mr Justice Edis said he had seen no media stories that breached reporting restrictions in the case.
In his ruling against an adjournment, he said he was satisfied the defendant “does not intend to attend and give evidence in his trial any time soon.”
He added: “Indeed, my judgment is that he has no intention to give evidence in the trial at all.”