- Worboys only admits 19 offences he was convicted for
- Police believe he may have had more than 100 victims
- Warboys only admitted any offending two-and-a-half years
The parole board failed to consider critical evidence when reaching a decision on whether to release the serial sex offender John Worboys on license, the High Court has heard.
Phillippa 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.
Kaufmann said the police believe his first offence was in 2002 - before the breakdown of a relationship which he had claimed was the trigger for his offences.
The former black cab driver was convicted of 19 offences in 2009, but the court heard police believe he may have had more than 100 victims.
“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.
The arguments came as part of an urgent judicial review of the case, backed by the London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who said Worboys presented a “significant threat to Londoners’ safety”.
In 2009, Worboys was convicted of 19 offences against 12 women, including one count of rape. He was jailed indefinitely in 2009, with a minimum term of eight years. In January, it was announced he would be released on parole, sparking widespread anger.
The 60-year-old, who now goes by the name John Radford, watched the proceedings via videolink from prison, while one of the victims bringing the challenge was present in the courtroom.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) 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.
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.
But Kaufmann said the wider allegations against Worboys “completely undermined” the board’s reasoning.
She told the court: “It is obvious, absolutely obvious, that this evidence of wider offending has a central bearing on all of those conclusions that formed the basis of the Parole Board’s conclusion that there had been a reduction in risk.”
Kaufmann said the Parole Board was entitled to consider any relevant evidence when assessing whether Worboys was dangerous.
She told the court there was “no unfairness” to the serial sex offender by the consideration of criminal allegations for which he was not convicted, as it would not have been necessary for the board to make any findings as to whether he committed the offences.
The barrister also said one of the victims, DSD, would have given evidence in person before the board had she been called to do so.
She added: “We say it would be perfectly open to the Parole Board to have called for the evidence, to have decided what evidence it needed and to have settled upon a process whereby that evidence was going to be looked at that was going to be fair to Mr Radford.”
She said those responsible for supervising him after his release would have to rely on him to tell them if the risk he posed to others was increasing – for example, if he was going to bars and chatting up women.
Kaufmann told the court he only admitted any offending two-and-a-half years ago, adding: “It is a very short amount of time for those concerned to assess his risk, to work with him and make that assessment, and to help him reduce the risk.”
The barrister also said Worboys has “not been tested” in any conditions similar to the community, because he has remained in a category A prison – which has the highest level of security.
She said the Parole Board had determined two years before its decision to release him that it was not safe to move him to more open conditions. Kaufmann added that it was “extraordinary” to release someone directly from category A conditions into the community.
The legal challenge on behalf of the two victims is being paid for by a crowdfunding appeal, which has so far raised almost £65,000.
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. 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.”
Dan Squires, QC for Khan said the case “raises much wider questions than simply the release of one person. It raises questions about confidence in the justice system.”
A former stripper and adult film star, Warboys used alcohol and drugs to incapacitate his victims between 2002 and 2008, and became known as the black cab rapist after attacking victims while working as a driver in London.
In January, Justice Secretary David Gauke ruled out a judicial review of the Parole Board’s decision, telling the Commons he believed there was “no reasonable prospect of success”. The London Mayor’s legal challenge announced shortly afterwards had called the decision to release Worboys “astonishing and deeply concerning”.
Several of Worboys’ victims learned of the decision to release him from prison via the media, an official review revealed.
Women who found out through press reports included those who were signed up to a scheme designed to keep them up to date on the case.
Correspondence to victims contained errors, while letters disclosing the news that Worboys was to be freed did not convey the consequences in a “readily understandable” way, the review found.