Campaigners and charity workers who support victims of sexual abuse have slammed the decision to release notorious “black-cab” rapist John Worboys who police believe carried out more than 100 rapes and sex attacks.
Worboys used alcohol and drugs to incapacitate his victims between 2002 and 2008. The licensed London black cab driver told some women he had won money at a casino or lottery and offered them spiked champagne in an invitation to celebrate with him.
In 2009 the former stripper was convicted of 19 offences of drugging and sexually assaulting women at Croydon Crown Court and ordered to serve at least eight years in jail.
Worboys, who is now 60, is believed to have spent around 10 years in custody, including a period on remand.
On Thursday a spokesman for the parole board confirmed a three member panel had approved Worboys’ release following an oral hearing.
Charity workers who support victims of sexual assault and rape criticised the length of time Worboys had served.
Fay Maxted, CEO of The Survivors Trust, said in a statement to HuffPost UK: “Many people will be shocked that Worboys is being released after serving nine years of an indeterminate sentence.
“The nature of the sexual assaults and manner in which they were committed demonstrates a very calculated and determined pattern of behaviour and offending against women and it will no doubt take significant resources in ongoing monitoring and support to integrate Worboys back into society.
“Also, the majority of victims only came forward after Worboys had been convicted so they have had no opportunity for justice.
“Sentencing and any compensation awarded to victims of sexual assault never seems to take into account the long-term impact on the health and wellbeing of victims or the ways in which their lives can be forever changed as a result of the trauma.
“I doubt whether the victims will feel Worboys has served a sentence that reflects the seriousness of his crimes or, at a time when specialist rape and sexual abuse services are struggling with lack of funding and huge waiting lists, that society has supported the victims as much as they needed.”
Chairwoman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Yvette Cooper, said she was “really shocked” by Worboys’ release and called for the Parole Board’s decision to be scrutinized before the rapist is released.
Charity campaigners called the time Worboys had served for his crimes “woefully short” and said his release “beggards belief”.
Cooper’s concerns were echoed in a tweet by Conservative MP Anna Soubry.
Meanwhile, his ex-wife, Jean Clayton, told The Sun he should “never be let out”.
Cooper said Worboys crimes were “the most appalling and vile” and there were “serious questions” over the Parole Board’s decision.
“Given the seriousness of this case, the Parole Board should publish their reasons immediately so both the decision and the process can be scrutinised before this man is released,” she said.
“We also need to know what information and support was given to all the victims before this decision was taken.”
Blogger, The Secret Barrister, also raised questions about Worboys’ victims knew about his release.
The arrangements for Worboys’ release will be managed by the Ministry of Justice, which has refused to comment on the matter at time of publication.
Rape Crisis England and Wales said: “What’s particularly shocking about Worboys’ release is the fact that some of his victims were not informed of the Parole Board’s decision and had to find out that the man who raped them was being set free via the media.
“This is completely unacceptable and Rape Crisis calls on the Parole Board to urgently explain why the statutory rules and procedures around informing victims weren’t followed.
“This case reflects more broadly the very serious failures in the criminal justice system when it comes to sexual offences.”
The Women’s Equality Party said that Worboys’ release shows that the criminal justice system had failed his victims.
Sophie Walker, leader of the party, said: “The story of John Worboys is a case study in the failure of the criminal justice system to protect and deliver justice for the victims of sexual violence.
“Police initially believed this prolific predator rather than his victims and, when he was finally put behind bars after five years of attacks, he was convicted of only a small proportion of the crimes police now believe he committed.
“It is right that sentencing guidelines for rape and sexual assault have been toughened since Worboys was convicted but he has served less than a decade for crimes that leave a permanent impact on the victims.
“The parole board may have satisfied itself that he can be prevented from ruining even more lives, but that will come as little comfort to the more than 100 women who he is thought to have attacked.”
The BBC reports Worboys will have to report to probation staff every week and is barred from contacting any of his victims. One woman contacted by the broadcaster was unaware his parole hearing had been successful and that he was due to be released.