Black cab rapist to stay in jail after parole board reverses decision

Black cab rapist John Worboys will remain behind bars after the Parole Board reversed an earlier decision that he should be released.

The board sparked controversy in January by ruling that Worboys was safe to be freed after around a decade behind bars.

He had been jailed indefinitely in 2009 with a minimum term of eight years after being convicted of 19 offences including rape, sexual assault and administering a substance with intent, committed against 12 victims.

In March, the Parole Board’s release direction was quashed by the High Court following a legal challenge by two women.

As a result Worboys, 61, was kept behind bars until the case had been reassessed by a new panel.

Revealing the outcome on Monday, a Parole Board spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that a panel of the Parole Board gave a negative decision in the parole review of John Worboys following an paper hearing in October 2018.

“Under current legislation Mr Worboys will be eligible for a further review within two years.

“The date of the next review will be set by the Ministry of Justice.”

The case was examined by a new panel on October 25.

It was considered “on the papers” after Worboys advised the Board that he would not be seeking an oral hearing, a recommendation for transfer to open conditions or a direction for release.

Nevertheless, the case still had to be looked at in accordance with the original referral.

Among the documents considered by the panel were a 1,255 page dossier on Worboys and personal statements from seven victims.

A summary of the decision said: “Having considered the Index Offences and all the evidence before it, the panel listed risk factors associated with Mr Worboys, including sexual preoccupation, a sense of sexual entitlement, his attitudes towards women [including a need to have sexual contact with women and to control women], a belief that rape is acceptable, alcohol misuse and problems with relationships.”

Worboys “submitted that he had worked very hard to accept and understand his offending”, the summary said.

It added: “However, the panel considered there to be a need to further understand risk factors and triggers to his offending.”

Witnesses described “positive behaviour” in custody since Worboys’s last parole review, but they did not support release or progression to open conditions within their reports, the summary said.

It concluded: “After considering the circumstances of offending, the progress made while in custody, and the evidence presented within the dossier, the panel was not satisfied that Mr Worboys was suitable for release or progression to the open estate.”

One of the women who brought the judicial review challenge of the Parole Board’s original decision said she felt “vindicated”.

She said: “We knew this man was a danger to women and we felt compelled to take action. It was the right decision for us to act and thank goodness we did.”

Kim Harrison, a specialist abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon, which represents a number of Worboys’ victims, said: “Our clients are deeply relieved by this decision and feel that the right outcome has finally been reached.

“However, it is outrageous that victims had to go to court, and be put through further distress, to receive this outcome.

“We hope this marks the start of a new template of working, providing victims with the respect they deserve and restoring faith within the criminal justice system.”

Under Parole Board rules, Worboys can now request an oral hearing. Such a request would have to be made within 28 days of the negative decision.

The Parole Board assesses whether serving prisoners in England and Wales are safe to be released into the community or moved to open conditions, considering around 25,000 cases a year.

The organisation came under intense scrutiny following the original Worboys decision earlier this year.

In the wake of complaints that parole processes were shrouded in secrecy, ministers scrapped a rule banning the Board from disclosing information about the reasoning behind its panels’ findings.

So far, more than 1,400 requests for decision summaries have been lodged.

In a separate proposed measure, the Government is also considering a new mechanism for challenging decisions to release offenders.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I welcome the Parole Board’s decision to keep John Worboys in prison, which I hope provides some reassurance for his victims.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Metropolitan Police / PA Wire.