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."

News
newsVideo targets undecided voters
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
News
Evan Spiegel, the founder of Snapchat, dropped out of Stanford University just before graduation to develop his app
techAnd yes, it is quite a lot
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis