Page last updated at 22:34 GMT, Friday, 13 March 2009

Cab driver guilty of sex attacks

John Worboys
Worboys admitted sexual activity with some customers

A London taxi driver has been found guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting a series of female passengers in the back of his cab.

John Worboys, 51, of Rotherhithe, London, gave them drinks laced with sedatives, Croydon Crown Court heard.

He was convicted of one rape, five sexual assaults, one attempted assault and 12 drugging charges committed from July 2007 to February 2008.

He had denied all the offences and was also cleared of two drugging charges.

Warboys picked his lone victims up in London's West End and gave them champagne, claiming he had won large amounts of money on the lottery or at casinos.

The former male stripper wept in the dock as he was convicted of rape.

You must be under no illusion that this case requires and will get a very substantial term of imprisonment
Mr Justice Penry-Davey

Mr Justice Penry-Davey addressed him, saying: "You have heard already that I do not intend to sentence you today.

"I am putting the case back for a pre-sentencing report and also a psychiatric report.

"You must be under no illusion that this case requires and will get a very substantial term of imprisonment."

Worboys will be sentenced on 21 April.

'Rape kit'

Prosecutors said the experienced licensed hackney cab driver targeted 14 women in total over 18 months until his arrest in February last year.

Evidence gathered by the Metropolitan Police
Police seized bottles of spiked alcohol following the arrest of Worboys

The defendant drove around looking for women who had already been drinking to offer heavily discounted or free lifts home, the jury was told.

He often claimed he lived in the same area as his victims and was concerned they would be approached by illegal minicab drivers.

He would show them a carrier bag full of cash before offering them a drink to celebrate.

But these drinks were mixed with sedatives and his victims were unable to prevent him assaulting them, the court heard.

The court was told many women were left with little memory of their ordeals and could only recall falling asleep in the back of the vehicle before waking up at home.

Some were left with flashbacks and vague memories of Worboys sitting beside them and adjusting their clothing.

One woman remembered being raped, a second woke up to find him with his hand up her skirt and a third said he exposed himself.

Detective Inspector Dave Reid asks for other women to come forward

Worboys admitted lying to the women and offering them drinks but claimed he did it because he craved female attention in the wake of a series of failed relationships.

But police discovered a "rape kit", including gloves, alcohol, glasses, drugs, condoms and a sex toy concealed in a plastic bag in another vehicle at his home.

Outside court, Det Insp Dave Reid, of the Metropolitan Police, praised the courage of the 14 women who gave evidence in court.

He also urged other women who thought they may have been a victim of Worboys to contact a special telephone hotline - 0800 1214441.

Inquiry ordered

One woman who fears she was another victim of Worboys, although her case was not included in the charges, says she believes he gave her a spiked drink after picking her up outside a nightclub in London's Leicester Square.

Sarah Craigie told Sky News: "A gentleman told me he had a good day at the races with some friends and he had won some money, and he asked me if I wanted to help celebrate with him. He offered me champagne, whisky, vodka, the lot.

"I had a can of Diet Coke and I was drinking that and he was telling me about the races.

"I really do think that my drink was spiked, 100%. I know what being drunk is like and I wasn't drunk, I felt very disorientated, I felt very vulnerable."

Commander Mark Simmons, head of the Metropolitan Police's violent crime directorate, stressed it was still safe for women to go out in London.

"To find someone who is in a position that is generally regarded as almost being one of trust as a black cab driver who abuses that trust, this is highly unusual," he said.

"We advise anyone going out late at night to take sensible precautions to make sure they get home safely. But we're not in any way changing our advice around the use of safe forms of travel at night."

Meanwhile an independent investigation has been ordered by the Metropolitan Police after it emerged Worboys was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault in July 2007 but no further action was taken.

He was held at a police station in Plumstead, south-east London, but released on bail.

In February 2008 he was arrested for a second time, which led to the charges on which he was convicted.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission will examine the way the case was handled.

Bob Oddy from the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association insisted black cabs were safe, despite Worboys' conviction.

"This man has really let the side down. It won't happen again and you can be confident the next taxi you stop will get you to your destination safely," he said.

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