Page last updated at 15:10 GMT, Friday, 13 March 2009

Woman's lift with sex attacker Worboys

By Ben Ando
BBC crime reporter

Carrie Symonds
Carrie had been out with friends before getting in Worboys' cab

It had just been an average night out with her friends to visit bars and clubs in London's Kings Road.

Carrie Symonds was waiting for a night bus back to her home in Richmond. It was July 2007 and she was 19 years old.

As she waited, a black cab pulled up. The driver said he did not like to see young women waiting on their own.

When she said she was heading to Richmond he told her he would take her as he was heading home there himself - even though 5 was all the cash she had.

"On getting into the taxi he offered me a cigarette which I accepted," remembers Ms Symonds.

"I was sitting down thinking this is all quite amusing."

What Ms Symonds did not know was that the driver was serial sex attacker John Worboys - who was convicted on Friday for one rape, five sexual assaults and one attempted assault, as well as 12 charges of drugging lone women passengers.

Glass of champagne

He told her what later became a familiar tale - that he had won a lot of money gambling and he wanted her to toast his success.

Ms Symonds goes on: "He then gave me a glass of champagne. There was always the slightest doubt this could be spiked so I had a sip but then I poured the rest of it onto the floor."

Believing Ms Symonds had drunk the champagne, Worboys turned the conversation to sex, telling her seedy stories.

I feel that if I was assaulted I would instinctively know. That's what I hope
Carrie Symonds

But then he stopped the cab and asked if he could join her in the back to toast his win.

Ms Symonds agreed, saying: "At every point in the journey I didn't feel like I could demand anything because I felt indebted to him - the fact that he was giving me this journey for 5.

"He seemed quite friendly. I didn't feel worried by him at any point."

However, Worboys then bet her she could not down a shot of vodka, and this time because he was next to her she was unable to pour the drink away untouched.

"I can't remember anything from that point onwards and that's what is so worrying. I believe he got into the front of the cab and did drive me back then straight away. I feel that if I was assaulted I would instinctively know. That's what I hope.

"But it's awful not to have that peace of mind to know exactly what did happen. I can 99% say nothing happened but to have that 1% of doubt is terrifying."

Six months later, police publicised the methods Worboys was using. Ms Symonds says she shuddered when a friend saw it in the media and told her.

When she contacted the police, Ms Symonds discovered she was one of dozens of women with similar stories.

Star witness

When they investigated, detectives found Worboys had written down Ms Symonds' mobile number and it was found at his home.

This firm evidential link made Ms Symonds one of the prosecution's star witnesses but coming to court carried an extra burden - she felt that she was representing many of the other victims who were sure they had been attacked but had no evidence to support their claims.

Ms Symonds is angry that Worboys did not plead guilty to save her the ordeal of a court appearance.

"I was nervous about giving evidence. I feel I was representing a lot of girls who were not going to stand in court. I felt happy with how it went in court. I broke down afterwards."

Ms Symonds believes Worboys is a dangerous and evil man.

"He is a very sad, deluded person and he is a danger to society.

It's terrible to think I will never ever know and there's nothing I can do about it
Carrie Symonds

"I hate that it's been played down that he is just a weirdo. He is more than a weirdo, he is very, very dangerous."

Her determination and courage in giving evidence and speaking out are, she admits, a way of coping with what has happened and moving on.

This summer Ms Symonds completes her studies and is considering a career in the media or marketing.

But still a question lurks at the back of her mind - did Worboys sexually attack her or not?

"It's terrible to think I will never ever know and there's nothing I can do about it.

"To hear other stories of girls who can't remember what happened and thought nothing happened and then to find buttons missing off their skirt and such like that - it's a terrifying thought and obviously you think all of the worst things."



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