Black cab rapist John Worboys was cleared for release by the Parole Board because they believe he is now ‘open and honest’ about his sex offending, the High Court heard today.
The 60-year-old, whose victims are trying to stop his release, has learned ‘not to hide negative thoughts and feelings’ during ‘positive’ treatment with psychologists.
Worboys, who is one of Britain’s most notorious sex offenders, has admitted attacking between 20 and 25 women after 2005 in his black cab where police found a rape kit of alcohol and drugs.
But a QC representing two of those victims said today 105 women have been identified by police since 2002 proving that Worboys ‘doesn’t have full acceptance of his guilt’ and should remain behind bars.
The women, who cannot be named, claim he remains a dangerous sexual predator and believe the parole board’s decision to free him is ‘irrational’ and ‘wrong’ and must be stopped.
The appeal hearing is set to last two days and a grey and haggard Worboys watched via video link from prison.
John Worboys was seen in public for the first time in ten years in January (pictured) as it emerged the parole board had rubber stamped his release because they were told he is now ‘open and honest’ about his sex offending
Worboys (left in 2008 and right this year) faces a challenge from two victims who says Britain’s most notorious sex offender must stay behind bars
The 60-year-old former stripper and adult film star-turned-cabbie was jailed indefinitely in 2009, with a minimum term of eight years, after being found guilty of attacks on 12 women over 18 months involving rape, assaults and drugging.
Police believe that Worboys, who now calls himself John Radford, may have attacked more than 500 passengers and 102 women reported him to detectives. He was only prosecuted over a dozen victims because officers did not want to ‘overload the indictment’, the court heard today.
Worboys told victims he was celebrating a lottery win and asked them to share a drugged drink with him so he could stupefy them
But in January the Parole Board announced he would be released on licence after less than a decade behind bars, despite warnings that he could still pose a risk to women.
One of the victims bringing the challenge is present in the packed courtroom.
The three judges hearing the case have heard that Worboys denies committing any offences other than those he was convicted of.
Today two victims and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan begin their challenge to the decision in January saying it is ‘irrational’ that he no longer poses any threat to the public.
Worboys appeared via video link from prison for the latest hearing concerning his potential release.
Lawyers for victims argue that ‘something went badly awry’ at the Parole Board as crucial evidence was ignored and board members made an ‘irrational’ decision.
Phillippa Kaufmann, QC, on behalf of the victims said: ‘This is a case where the parole process has gone badly wrong.
‘It is submitted that the decision was unlawful on two main bases.
‘First because the board failed to take into account evidence… second because even putting aside that crucial failure, the decision was irrational.’ She wants the High Court to declare the Parole Board decision is unlawful and order that the board reverse its decision or at least agree to reconsider it’.
Ms Kaufmann told the court the Parole Board’s reasons for believing Worboys no longer poses a risk to society included that he had ‘learned to be open and honest’.
She said the board also considered his risk was reduced because of the fact he took ‘full responsibility’ for his crimes, had ‘good insight’ into his behaviour and had undergone treatment.
However, the barrister said police who investigated Worboys believed he had committed offences against 105 women.
She added that he often left victims ‘confused and disoriented’ and with only a partial memory of their ordeal.
Ms Kaufmann told the court both victims bringing the case against him were found to have traces of sleeping tablets in their blood.
Worboys’ black cab (pictured) was used to pick up victims who were offered cut price fares and an alcoholic drink that were usually spiked so he could abuse them
After his prosecution police released images of Worboys’ ‘rape kit’, which he kept in his cab, which included drugs and condoms
As the case got under way, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement that it was his ‘top priority to keep Londoners safe’.
He said: ‘I am morally and duty-bound to do everything within my power to protect them from harm.
Worboys still refuses to admit the true number of women he attacked, his victims believe
‘John Worboys presents a significant threat to Londoners’ safety and on behalf of his victims and survivors, I felt I had to be involved.’
He added: ‘Many of John Worboys’s victims live and work in London. I have been clear that he shouldn’t be released at the very least until the decision has been properly independently scrutinised and we are reassured that those in positions of power and responsibility are doing everything they can to keep all his victims, and the rest of us, safe.’
It is said Worboys, who has changed his name to John Radford, does not oppose the reasons for his freedom being granted being made public.
But he is seeking restrictions on his whereabouts and the address of any rehabilitation project he has to participate in.
At an earlier hearing the 60-year-old was photographed being led into the Royal Courts of Justice in London, almost a decade after he first appeared before magistrates in February 2008.
Worboys appeared grey and haggard as he sat in a caged dock of the Royal Courts of Justice.
He was driven 185 miles to London from his cell at Wakefield Prison in Yorkshire at the expense of taxpayers after a judge ordered he attend in person.
Two of his victims were also in court, and that at least one of them objected to coming face to face with him for the first time in a decade.
Worboys was ordered to stay in jail for a minimum term of eight years after being convicted of 19 offences against 12 victims.
The Crown Prosecution Service only proceeded with 14 cases and did not haul him back to court when more victims came forward after his 2009 trial as it was assumed he would be locked up for the rest of his life after being given an indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP).
How did the Probation Service fail victims of John Worboys?
Worboys is taken to court in cuffs before he was jailed in 2009
Victims of black-taxi rapist John Worboys learned of the decision to release him from prison in the media, a damning review has found.
Chief Inspector of Probation Dame Glenys Stacey was asked by the Government to carry out an urgent review of the ‘victim contact scheme’ last month amid a furore over the Worboys case.
Her report said that by the time of the parole hearing, five women were in contact with the scheme, but it criticized the way in which staff maintained contact with victims, with some letters misspelling names and addresses.
Here are some of the key findings:
- The National Probation Service ‘generally complied’ with the provisions of the Victim Contact Scheme.
- Correspondence sent to women who opted into the scheme was of ‘poor’ quality, with errors in names and addresses, while messages were ‘not conveyed clearly’.
- Prior to Worboys’ parole hearing, attempts were made to contact women who had not opted into the scheme, which was a ‘well-intentioned action’ – but there was not enough time for the recipients to absorb the information and respond.
- Five women in contact with the scheme at the time of the hearing were notified of the decision to direct Worboys’ release by letter, email or telephone call.
- They each received the news at different times and it broke in the press before some had received and read the notification.
- Women not in contact with the scheme learned of the decision through the media.
- Victims described their ‘shock and distress’ at the news, saying they had not felt prepared for the outcome.