Taxi driver guilty of sex attacks could be set free in eight years

Rape charities 'outraged' at sentence and £723.33 compensation for victims

A taxi driver who became one of Britain's worst serial sex attackers was jailed indefinitely yesterday, but told he could be freed in just eight years.

John Worboys, 51, molested and in one case raped passengers in the back of his black cab. He operated in central London and preyed on young women who were clearly under the influence of alcohol and offered them free lifts home. Once in his taxi he persuaded the women to drink champagne with him by showing them bundles of cash and pretending he was celebrating a lottery win. When they agreed he would spike the drinks with powerful sedatives and take advantage of his victims when they lost consciousness.

At his trial last month Worboys was convicted of sexually assaulting 12 women, but police believe he may have attacked more than 200. So far 96 victims have been identified, 85 of whom came forward before his conviction and a further 11 in the weeks since. The detectives involved in the case have said that they will visit the former stripper in prison in the hope that he will confess to even more unsolved sex crimes.

Sentencing him at Croydon Crown Court yesterday Mr Justice Penry-Davey told Worboys he had "perfected a web of deceit" to ensnare young women.

The judge added: "Drivers of licensed black cabs in London have a worldwide reputation not only for the reliability of their driving, but for their professional trustworthiness. You exploited that trust and, through the use of alcohol and drugs, you sexually abused young women who trusted you to take them home safely at night." The judge passed an indeterminate jail sentence, saying that Worboys should serve a minimum of eight years before being considered for parole. However he said that the cab driver would not be released until a parole board decided he was no longer a threat to women.

He also ruled that Worboys be banned from driving a passenger vehicle for profit and that the £3,680 cash, which he used as "proof" of his invented tale of lottery success, should be added to the £5,000 recouped from the sale of his cab and divided between the 12 victims. They will get £723.33 each.

But the sentence has angered rape campaigners. A spokeswoman for Rape Crisis said: "We are outraged that this serial rapist will be eligible for parole in just eight years' time. Our judiciary should be sending out the strong, clear message that rape is considered a serious violent crime, and sentencing accordingly.

"Instead, this case serves as another stark reminder that our criminal justice system continues to fail women who have been subjected to sexual violence, a fact which is reflected in their continued reluctance to report."

The police investigation is currently the subject of an Independent Police Complaints Commission inquiry after it emerged that officers had missed the chance to catch Worboys more than seven months before he was eventually charged.

In that instance a 19-year-old student from Eltham, south London, complained that she was given drink and drugs and then sexually molested by Worboys. Officers at Plumstead police station arrested and interviewed him and also did toxicology tests, but, despite the incriminating results of those tests, which found suspicious drugs in the victim's blood, decided there was not enough evidence to hand the file to the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration. Worboys went on to sexually assault at least another six women, one of whom he raped, before he was eventually caught.

Yesterday the court heard that he still denies sexually assaulting the women. His barrister Jeremy Gold QC said: "The psychiatric report indicates that he is not suffering from any mental disorder. He's not diagnosed as being a psychopath or as having any personality disorder." But, the barrister added, "He continues to deny the offences of which he has been convicted."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders