John Worboys case: Key questions answered

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The John Worboys case has come under close scrutiny after the Parole Board directed his release from prison. Over the weekend it emerged that the Government may seek a judicial review of the decision.

– Who is John Worboys?

Now aged 60, Worboys is a former stripper who became known as the black-cab rapist after he was convicted in 2009. He drugged and sexually assaulted women passengers and is suspected of being one of Britain’s most prolific sex offenders.

– How many charges was he prosecuted for?

Worboys faced 23 charges and was convicted of 19, relating to 12 victims. He was convicted of one count of rape, five sexual assaults, one attempted sexual assault, and 12 of administering a substance with intent.

– Other cases have been mentioned – what happened with those?

Of 83 separate complainants referred to the Crown Prosecution Service during the police investigation, 14 formed part of the trial, while the others did not pass the “evidential test”. Another three complaints were assessed to have passed the test prior to the trial but by then it was decided there were sufficient counts to lead to an appropriate sentence.

– Did more claims surface after Worboys was convicted?

Yes. The Metropolitan Police received allegations from a further 19 women. The force submitted a file in respect of one complainant who alleged a sexual assault, which was found not to pass the evidential test.

– Will authorities have another look at the cases that were not prosecuted?

Lawyers for victims want this to happen. The CPS has said its decision-making in the case was on the basis of all available evidence and there are no plans to review it. Scotland Yard has said no new information has been received and there is currently no live Metropolitan Police investigation.

– What sentence did Worboys get?

Worboys was jailed indefinitely in 2009 and ordered to serve a minimum term of eight years. Including a period on remand, he has been behind bars for around a decade.

– What options did the Parole Board have in considering the case?

It could decide to direct his release, recommend a transfer to open conditions or make no direction to release – in other words keeping Worboys where he is.

– Can the Government overrule the decision?

No. Parole Board directions are binding and ministers have no power in law to appeal or reject them. The Justice Secretary can step in when there is a recommendation for a move from a closed to an open prison but this is not applicable in Worboys’ case as he is to be released directly into the community.

– So what now?

Ministers have pledged to do everything possible to ensure Worboys stays behind bars and it emerged over the weekend that Justice Secretary David Gauke is looking into the possibility of a judicial review. This would be a highly unusual step, and he will only move forward if there is a “reasonable prospect of success”.

– How will Worboys be supervised if he is released?

The licence conditions have yet to be finalised but upon release he is expected to be held in a probation hostel. These are staffed 24 hours a day and impose restrictions on released offenders such as a night-time curfew. There have been calls for Worboys to be located away from London.

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