Author Topic: Taxi driver linked to drugging and assaulting 100 victims to be released  (Read 697 times)

Offline Trifle

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I couldnt believe it when I read that a taxi driver who was linked to sexually assaulting many  passengers is to be released from jail after serving the minimum sentence: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jan/17/worboys-victims-launch-crowdfunding-appeal-against-sex-attackers-release?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

The victims have launched a crowd funding appeal to challenge his release here: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/challenge-worboys-release/

Offline Slantrhyme

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Unbelievable isn’t it, just shows the lack of regard in which women are held in our society. He was only charged with about 13 offences, including rape, drugging, and multiple counts of sexual assault. I think there was something like another 93 charges that were thrown out because of police incompetence. How awful to be one of those victims, and the thought that it could’ve been any one of us. 
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Offline Trifle

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^ Absolutely. And the victims weren’t even told he was being released, they read it in the media.

I think Uber have been linked to a string of sexual assault charges they haven’t dealt with too.

Offline Betty Croker's frosted buns

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I've got nothing but contempt for the prisoner in question after the crimes he committed but I find the whole way the case is being reported in the media to be haircurlingly wrong.

I've got to go out in a minute so can't go into too much detail but I'll put it this way :

I think its highly unlikely that the Parole Board are at fault.

The prisoner's Probation Officer is supposed to contact the Victim Liaison Office not the Parole Board so if they have failed to do that then the wrong organisation is getting kicked over it. But then again, the victims contacted are usually the ones he has been convicted of offending against. He was convicted of one rape, lots of drugging to commit assaults and some sexual assaults. About 13 offences in all including 1 rape.

He is said to have been accused of over 100 rapes but wasn't prosecuted for that many. A Judge can only sentence him for what he is prosecuted and convicted of.

He can't sentence him for prosecutions that didn't take place. Its unlikely that the Victim Liaision Office (separate from the Parole Board) would consult victims he wasn't convicted of offending against.

If the police or the CPS were at fault for that then they should be getting the kicking not the Parole Board. Its very difficult to prosecute a crime where the essence of the allegation is that victim was drugged and couldn't remember what happened so the CPS would have struggled where there were evidence gaps.

If there are cases that should have been prosecuted and weren't, they still can be. There is no statute of limitations in English law. The answer to the outcry would be for new prosecutions to be considered against him and he be tried fair and square for them. Then he can have new sentences of imprisonment passed against him which he will have to serve.

In a nutshell, The Secretary of State gives the Parole Board the power to release IPP prisoners. He could exercise that power himself but European law says he has to delegate his power to do it to an independent judicial body. This is partly because as a politician he would be too vulnerable on acting on public outcries rather than being objective. He has the right to be represented at a Parole Hearing and to make submissions to the Parole Board about whether he thinks the prisoner should be released. Nine times out of ten, he doesn't bother. Did he bother in this case? I suspect not. If he didn't bother turning up to give input when the decision was made why the hell is he threatening to review the Parole Board's powers for coming to a decision he doesn't like? He's threatening to judicially review them for making a finding he didn't like, when he delegated his own power to make that decision to them. Seems an absurd way to go about things.

I suspect the answer is because he lost a very important case recently where the cuts he made to legal aid funding of parole board cases were overturned. Cases before the Parole Board called "Pre-Tarrif sifts" were ordered by the Court to be funded under legal aid as well as 2 other types of cases. This will be very expensive and leave a hole in his budget. It would be very convenient if a public outcry gave him an excuse to review the whole question of Parole Board powers and procedure to see where he can claw his budget money back.

And finally, the crowdfunding appeal looks misconceived to me. They will never need to pay the Parole Board's costs as far as I can see. But I'll come back to that.

The Parole Board aren't allowed to punish the prisoner for what he did. That's for the Judge to do and his case only comes to the Parole Board once the punishment part of his sentence has ended. They can then only assess his current level of risk and whether he can be managed under strict licence conditions in the community or not. They can't say "He hasn't done long enough for the crimes he committed in our view." That's beyond their powers and they would rightly be judicially reviewed for that.  He can be recalled to prison by Probation at any time for the rest of his life and that is hardly ever mentioned in the reports.

Don't get me wrong. I have no sympathies for him and it may well be someone or several parties cocked up big time and he hasn't done all the time he needs to do for the crimes he committed.

But the reporting is so flawed and I think the wrong body is being kicked and the Government are potentially going to use the Warboy's case as an excuse to plug the funding gap that was opened up by the Court's unrelated legal aid ruling in another category of Parole Board case funding.
« Last Edit: Jan 19, 2018, 07:26:55 PM by Betty Croker's frosted buns »
And now I know how Joan of Arc felt.......

Offline Trifle

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Thanks for your post, Betty. This has helped me to understand the case in much greater context as I don’t know anything much about how parole boards make their decisions. The whole thing looked baffling so what you’ve said makes sense to me in explaining what is going on behind the simplification of the media reporting. I want to know why the parole board thought he was fit to be released and why this information isn’t made public. I’m sick of reading about rapists and other sex offenders seemingly getting short sentences or no sentences. I hate the thought he would have to attack yet another victim before it was realised a mistake had been made and he was put back in prison. Also if the victims won’t need to pay the parole board costs then why is the crowd funding being supported by a firm of lawyers.

Offline Betty Croker's frosted buns

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Hi Trifle

I made my comment about the crowd funding issue on the basis that the Parole Board performs a judicial function and like all other bodies who do that in this country, its not their policy to defend their decisions in Court. I acknowledge that they can do on occasion but that would be unusual. They usually just provide the Court who is judicially reviewing their decision with the information it requests and leaves it up to them.

The fact that lawyers are involved in an issue gives me no comfort whatsoever as a general rule because lawyers get their living from engaging in litigation. There are thousands are cases being heard up and down the country and often on both the losing and winning side there will be lawyers. Of course, you are only in danger of paying the other sides cost if you lose - which questions whether you were on the right track to start with.

In this case, its clear that what people are upset about is the length of sentence - which is nothing to do with the Parole Board. Its imposed by the Judge - who is bound by the Sentencing Guidelines and is dependent on the police and CPS for marshelling the evidence and prosecuting cases that meet the evidential and public interest tests. A Judge can't sentence someone for over 100 rapes unless he has been been convicted of them.

By the time he has served the time allocated by the Judge as his punishment time, the Parole Board can only apply one test at the Parole hearing "Is his current risk of causing serious harm to the public manageable in the community?" by probation and MAAPA and other agencies. They can't consider any other issues than that. They may have their own views on how long he should have got as punishment but they are not allowed to express them or take them on board because that's the Judge's remit.

The Parole Board are prohibited from taking on board the victim's views as to whether he should remain in custody. Most victims who want to play a role in a parole hearing want to say exactly that - (and understandably so)  "I want him to stay in longer or  I hope he never gets released" but legally that can't play any role in the Parole Board's decision making because it doesn't contribute to the question they have to answer - is his current risk manageable in the community or not? He's not allowed to have contact with his victims so they can't have any knowledge of his current risk or how it could be managed. In so much as victims have input that the Parole Board can use in their decision making, it will be about where they should put exclusion zones - so he is not allowed to go to areas where they live or work, or about whether they have had any contact from him - factual matters that go to managing or informing about his current risk.

This is why I wonder whether any judicial review based on the lack of victim input will have any prospect of succeeding. All alternatives to judicial review have to be considered by the parties before they litigate and the potential and cheaper option would be for any proposed licence conditions to protect a victim who wasn't consulted, to be sent to the Parole Board and those conditions added.

I think he wasn't convicted of offending against these two women in the crowdfunder case and I don't mean to imply anything by that other than that may be why they either weren't signed up to the victim liaison scheme or the scheme didn't invite their input. I'm not suggesting they weren't properly considered victims. The scheme usually works very well and takes it responsibilities towards victims very seriously.

I'm not really sure why the reasons behind Parole Board decisions are not made public. It may be because it would undermine the offender's immediate attempts to rehabilitate into the community, if there was an outcry at the point of release. Whether that should be changed or not is a good question but I can't see how it can be achieved by judicially reviewing the Parole Board's decision in Warboys. They have correctly followed the rules they are governed by. If the Rules need to be changed then that happens elsewhere - Parliament changing the Parole Board Rules, or a similar legislative procedure.

Unlike Crown Court proceedings there is no contemporaneous transcript kept of Parole Board hearings. Usually its just the Chair person's notes that are the formal record and they are not normally disclosed even to the prisoner unless he brings a judicial review alleging some error. They have only very recently started recording some hearings.

As to why the Parole Board came to the decision that Warboy's current risk was manageable in the community subject to licence conditions, none of us have any idea. But they are not crackpots or flakes. They will have had very good reasons and their decision will run to several pages as they have to account for all the pre-determined criteria that is set down for them to make a risk assessment. They don't just look at him and think "he's eyes are a bit close together." There is a whole procedure set down for them of matters they have to be satisfied about.

There is a load of garbage in the Guardian about an independent psychologist having undue influence at the hearing - which I find laughable having being in that scenario many,many times myself. Parole Boards in England and Wales are savvy as f*ck. They don't have the wool pulled over their eyes by anyone especially independent psychologists. My view is that they are one part of the Criminal Justice system that actually works at the moment. They are usually risk adverse bodies meaning that if they err - its usually on the side of caution. Inevitably they will make some mistakes but only in circumstances where any of us would have come to the same conclusion in their shoes. Although their finding that Worboy's risk is manageable in the community may seem perverse given what he was originally convicted of, I would bet my money on it not being considered so should the detail of their decision be made known. We may disagree with it but knowing how they work  it will have been founded on solid reasons. I have very little faith in most professionals in this day and age but I do actually have a great deal of faith in them. Their recruitment over the last few years has been excellent and I'm betting it would have been a very experienced panel who sat on the Warboy's case.

I also share your concern at short or no custodial sentences for sex offences but over my life time I've seen a marked improvement and the problem in my view is usually caused by an underfunded police force failing to properly investigate and properly gather the evidence to allow the Judge to justify a sentence in line with the sentencing guidelines or juries finding a reasonable doubt when in non-sex cases they would feel sure enough to convict. The sentencing guidelines themselves are not unduly lenient and changing them won't improve the situation.

There also a misperception of offenders getting off lightly because IPP sentences such as Worboy's sentence which are life sentences are misreported as short determinate sentences by the press. Bear in mind that half of the IPP prisoners who the Parole Board released last year were recalled to prison by their probation officers within the year - usually without any reoffending involved and are back in custody. Unless there are changes in the law, that cycle of their management being sometimes in the community sometimes returning to custody will continue for the rest of their lives.

I do really believe that the energy in this case would be better directed at reviving prosecutions against him where there is evidence to do so rather than targeting the Parole Board.
 
« Last Edit: Jan 20, 2018, 02:05:08 PM by Betty Croker's frosted buns »
And now I know how Joan of Arc felt.......

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Offline Trifle

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Thanks for taking the time to write that post, Betty. It was really interesting to read and clearly the picture is a lot more complicated than I first considered. I initially read the headline and got angry, and I am still angry about it obviously as it’s a terrible crime to read about in the first place. But it now seems more like a problem with the initial investigations rather than the resulting consequences of this that are currently being reported in the media, as you have explained.

Obviously I do not want to read about men being let out who have committed these types of crimes  either and I would always wonder why the sentence seems so short or whether they will reoffend. In the context of the large amount of sexual violence against women that goes on world wide, it just grates to read about someone like this predator walking free. Although I do understand now the parameters within which that has happened and why. I agree I would like to see a review of the past allegations that were not investigated properly or did not result in convictions.

Offline Artist

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Thank you Betty for sharing your insights on this story. I think it is really important.
I don't believe that crowdfunding will be of any use. Police didn't do their job properly.
« Last Edit: Jan 20, 2018, 07:58:46 PM by Artist »
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Offline Trifle

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I think if it helps the victims feel less helpless in any small way then it is of use. They’ve already nearly raised the 50k they wanted anyway, so it looks like whatever they’re trying to do will go ahead.

Offline Artist

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I agree. They feel supported.
“Expectations are resentments under construction.”
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Offline Betty Croker's frosted buns

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Thanks Artist,

Sorry Trifle, that massive post probably felt like it was addressed to your post but it was just me voicing my general frustration at how we identify how to make things better. I've been writing that post in my head since the whole awful issue arose.
And now I know how Joan of Arc felt.......

Offline Trifle

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Thanks Artist,

Sorry Trifle, that massive post probably felt like it was addressed to your post but it was just me voicing my general frustration at how we identify how to make things better. I've been writing that post in my head since the whole awful issue arose.

No problem at all. You clearly have a lot of insight and it was valuable to read.  :)

Offline Slantrhyme

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 Thank you Betty, it’s nice to have a properly informed legal perspective. These cases are very emotive, and understandably so, it would be useful if the mainstream media could focus more on the facts.

 I hope all the publicity leads to a fresh investigation of all the outstanding allegations. I still wouldn’t trust him in the back of a taxi,Although I’m sure the conditions of his release would prevent him from going anywhere near driving a cab again. 
the summer is ended and we are not yet saved

Offline Betty Croker's frosted buns

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For anyone who is interested - although this is more about the impact on the law as a whole rather than the impact on Warboy's victims, of today's decision, so will be unpalatably dry to most;

I've been reading the summaries of the Warboy's judgment that are coming from some lawyer’s involved rather than the poor reporting in the Press of the High Court case and have to say as follows :

1.   The question of Warboy’s release is being sent back to a new Parole Board who will reconsider his risk. The decision of the Court today is not that he will remain in custody for good. The decision is that he will remain in custody for definite only until he is put before a new panel of the Parole Board for another hearing. The Parole Board will then decide again, whether to release him. If they don't release him then he will be back before a Parole Board at intervals of about 18 months

God knows what will happen if the new panel agree with the old panel’s assessment of risk because even their selection as a panel will have now become highly politicised. It obvious many of them are highly disgruntled at what they see as political interference with their function. Political interference which comes without political support. I am not f*cked off that Warboys himself is not being released but  I have to say I am highly f*cked off at Sadiq Khan for his failure to see the long term possible outcome of his actions which go beyond the populist opportunism of interfering in the Warboys case. I usually like him but now I think he’s a plank. Not because I want a convicted rapist on the streets but because the repercussions to the judicial/political mechanism that he and the Secretary of State have poked a spanner in will clank on. Special cases in law usually have repercussions that go way beyond the outcome of their individual case and likely so in this one.

IPP sentences are a political football and all round disaster for the knock on resources effect they have had on prisons and other prisoners, which Government after Government from Labour to coalition to Tory, have had to try and de-policitise and pass on to the Parole Board. This is because there are no politically acceptable solutions that any of them can bring to get the remaining IPP manageable prisoners (not including Warboys) out of the system. So they make it the Parole Board’s problem and give them the tools and rules for how to deal with them. Yet when the Parole Board use those tools and rules as they have done here, they hang them out to dry and give them a good public kicking. And understandably the Parole Board are not happy about being the fall-guys. Nick Hardwick (head of the Parole Board’s) forced resignation was particularly unjust in the circumstances.

2.   The original Parole Board decision to release was not found to be irrational by the Court but it was considered irrational for the Parole Board not to have undertaken further enquiry into other matters including wider offending.


This seems like a distinction without a difference. The Parole Board are not allowed to determine whether the offender committed other crimes to the one’s he is convicted of. The Secretary of State provides the dossier to the Parole Board which includes all the information he thinks the Parole Board ought to consider in coming to their decision. He is allowed to be represented at the hearing. If any party should have introduced evidence of “wider offending” to be considered by the Parole Board, it should have been the Secretary of State in the dossier, if he thought it was appropriate. The fact that he then forced the Head of Parole Board’s resignation over this “failure” is utterly cynical.

I was surprised to hear that they didn’t take information about the other allegations into account though because generally, they do. Whether they manage to walk the fine line between using other allegations to “probe and test” the offender’s account whilst being precluded of “making determinations as to whether he committed other offences”, is another thing. But generally, they do take other unconvicted allegations into account, most of the time because unlike the Criminal Courts they work on the “balance of probabilities” civil evidential standard rather than the “beyond all reasonable doubt” criminal one.

They do this even to the point of unfairness on some occasions because usually the only witnesses at a Parole Hearing are the probation officer, the “offender supervisor” who is an officer from the prison and psychologists. You may occasionally get a police officer but its not the norm. So, for example, you will have  a probation officer referring to say, 8 domestic violence call outs to the offender’s last known address to evidence a history of partner violence that he has never been convicted of. She (its nearly always a “she”) will turn up with this information and make it known for the first time on the day of the hearing and they will normally allow her to give evidence about it. The Offender’s account may be that he has never been involved in domestic violence, that of the 8 police call outs to the address, 3 of those incidents were his Dad attacking his Mum, 2 were his brothers fighting each other and one was where they called the police about a fight between the neighbours next door. None of them involved him. The Probation Officer will have no way of confirming or refuting whether his account is true and if you ask for the hearing to be adjourned for it to be checked out his potential release will be delayed for about 3 months or more while the hearing is reconvened. So he will probably take his chances about whether any mud has stuck to him and soldier on with the hearing despite the potential unfairness.

To hear that the Parole Board (as opposed to the Sentencing Judge) closed their ears to anything other than the convicted offences in the Warboys case, is therefore unusual and unexpected although not really out of kilter with the rules set for them.

The Parole Board Rules 2016 go too far in prohibiting any information being made public.


The Parole Board didn’t set these Rules. They were made for them by the Secretary of State and the Parole Board disagreed with the level of secrecy and called for more transparency about their decisions but they were bound by the Rules set for them by the Government/Politicians. Again to see Nick Hardwick, the strongest advocate for Parole Board openness there has been, been made to fall on his sword by those exact same politicians is absurd. Parliament will be responsible for changing the Rules which will probably allow for disclosure of some information about the decision but probably unlikely to go as far as to make the hearing itself or a transcript of the hearing available to the press or public.

The Court said Warboys was an exceptional case and was not opening the floodgates to challenges of Parole Board decisions by victims or evidence of crimes for which offenders have not been convicted 


Good luck with that one.

The latter happens routinely anyway in most cases even if it shouldn’t but why insist on it in this case if it is not appropriate in all other cases? Why should some offender less high profile than Warboys not be asked about allegations that he wasn’t convicted of? The answer is “he will be and already has been” but if that was officially acknowledged then the Secretary of State’s Department, who are already massively under resourced, would have to start constructing more detailed  dossiers and allowing for more  witnesses to attend who can give reliable evidence on those other allegations so the Parole Board can come to informed and defensible decisions. That means hearings will go on longer, the same panel will not be able to hold two hearings a day and Parole hearings will take longer to list as the diaries quickly fill up and backlogs get worse meaning prisoners spend longer in prison using up resources whilst waiting for them. More panel members will need to be recruited and paid, more criminal justice staff will have to be hired. Lawyers will have more challenges available to them now that we know the High Court is prepared to second guess the judgement of an experienced Parole Board. Legal Aid will be sought to be made available to finance those challenges. Legal Aid applications staff will have to process those increased applications and its all huge sums of money that the Politicians are not prepared to spend. So all well and good that they get some other body to fall on their sword over it all.
« Last Edit: Mar 28, 2018, 10:32:17 PM by Betty Croker's frosted buns »
And now I know how Joan of Arc felt.......