- Court weighing whether to block Parole Board decision to release Worboys
- Conditions for release would be strengthened to include electronic tagging
- ‘Unfair’ to consider allegations Worboys was not charged with: lawyer
- 2 women claimed something went ‘badly wrong’ with decision to free him
- 60-year-old watched court proceedings via a video link from prison
- Judges bar Worboys’ release pending their ruling at a later date
- Worboys jailed indefinitely in 2009 with a minimum term of 8 years
Victims of black cab rapist John Worboys face a wait to see if they have successfully challenged a decision to release him from jail.
At the conclusion of two days of legal argument, three leading judges at the High Court in London reserved their ruling to a date to be fixed.
They also continued a temporary bar preventing the serial sex attacker’s release, which was originally granted in January after legal action was launched against the Parole Board’s decision.
The 60-year-old, who now goes by the name John Radford, watched the proceedings via video link from prison as his lawyer Edward Fitzgerald QC told the court his was a “unique case”.
He said: “He has completed his tariff and he is therefore entitled to be released if it is not necessary for the protection of the public that he be detained.
“The Parole Board had directed his release, he was entitled on their direction to freedom and he has had that taken away. I think it is a unique case in which someone who has been granted his freedom has then had it taken away from him.”
Fitzgerald said the alternative remedy to what would be the “drastic and unprecedented step” of taking away Worboys’ freedom was for release conditions to be “strengthened”.
He told the court: “Mr Radford has readily accepted proposals for additional monitoring, by way of electronic tagging and lie detector tests.”
If the complaint was that other allegations against Worboys should have been prosecuted, “it would be wrong to try to use the Parole Board as a mechanism for finding proven those allegations”.
Fitzgerald told the judges they should “exercise the greatest care and anxious scrutiny” when considering whether to interfere with the Parole Board’s decision.
He said there were a number of “singular and striking features” of the case and the court should consider the fact the Parole Board is a tribunal with “specialist expertise” which heard all of the evidence.
The barrister added: “If it is clear that this decision is unlawful, should it be interfered with?”
In 2009, Worboys was convicted of 19 offences against 12 women, including one count of rape. He was jailed indefinitely, with a minimum term of eight years. In January, it was announced he would be released on parole, sparking widespread anger.
The urgent judicial review of the case was brought by two of Worboys’ victims and is backed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who said Worboys presents “a significant threat to Londoner’s safety.”
Police believe Worboys may have had more than 100 victims. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has defended its decision not to prosecute all of the complaints against him, claiming many of the allegations did not pass the evidential test. Worboys denies committing any offences other than those he was convicted of.
Ben Collins, QC for the Parole Board acknowledged the “serious suffering” and “courage” of Worboys’ victims.
“Can I just say this in relation to the victims at the outset of my submissions. We are acutely conscious that underlying this forensic and analytical debate are stories of real and serious suffering on the part of the victims.
“I wish to acknowledge that on behalf of the board at the outset, and also to acknowledge the courage of the victims in pursuing their claims.”
Philippa Kaufman, QC, representing two of Worboys’ victims, told the court on Tuesday that the board should not have ignored the “wider allegations” of Worboys’ offending, but on Wednesday Collins claimed it was not the board’s function to decide the “guilt or innocence” of a prisoner.
The board was not a criminal court, but an “independent and impartial tribunal”, he said.
The barrister said: “The board indeed does not have to determine whether there has been a crime, or what it is, because there has been a criminal trial and a sentencing exercise.”
He also said it would be “unfair” for the board to consider allegations of which a prisoner had not been charged, as the panel would then have to reach its conclusions about such allegations.
He added: “We say it is impossible for the board to find that a prisoner is guilty of a crime for which he has not been charged, consistent with the requirements of fairness.”
Kaufman revealed police believe his first offence was in 2002 - before the breakdown of a relationship which Worboys had claimed was the trigger for his offences.
“This throws into doubt the entire account he gave of his offending behaviour,” Kaufmann said, adding that if the triggers for his behaviour were not fully known, the parole board would have to reconsider whether he had in fact reckoned with his criminal past.
On Wednesday afternoon the judges reserved their decision to a date to be fixed. They continued a bar on Worboys’ release pending their ruling.