Hackney police may have “missed an opportunity” to catch black cab rapist John Worboys in 2004, according to a senior Scotland Yard source.

A woman told Hackney police in July 2004 that a black cab driver who picked her up from a bar in Old Compton Street in Soho followed her into her house and offered her what he claimed were headache tablets.

The 30-year-old said she later woke up in bed wearing a dress but no underwear.

The case was dropped by Hackney police due to lack of evidence, but when the Worboys investigation was referred to the Serious Crime Directorate in 2007, Scotland Yard identified the incident as potentially linked to Worboys.

Scotland Yard detectives then questioned the cab driver but, four years after the alleged incident, the woman was unable to identify him from a police line-up. As a result the Crown Prosecution Service decided that the case would not be included amongst the 24 charges brought against Worboys at his trial.

The Scotland Yard source said: “It [the Hackney case] could be considered as a potential missed opportunity to catch Worboys.  This case was reinvestigated and we reviewed it evidentially.

“Further investigation was needed in this case, as in many of these cases, before we could refer them to the Crown Prosecution Service.”

Worboys, 51, was convicted on Friday of sexually assaulting 12 women between 2006 and 2008. But police say there may have been many more victims of attacks dating further back.

Scotland Yard have identified more than 80 attacks with “methodological similarities” to those perpetrated by Worboys.

Two other cases police believe to be linked to the attacker, which were reported within 18 months of each other, took place in the neighbouring boroughs of Islington and the City of London.

Both women said they had been assaulted after accepting drinks from a black cab driver, but borough police failed to make the link at the time.

Hackney police have refused to comment on the original investigation.

Ruth Hall from the charity Women Against Rape said: “If Hackney police had investigated this properly they wouldn’t be evasive, they would be ready to look into what went wrong.

“Whether this was listed as a crime and not investigated properly or not recorded as a crime at all, the result for women is still the same.

“Women who report rape put themselves through a lot of pain because they are determined to stop it happening to others. Unfortunately, they do not meet the same determination from the police.

“The same thing is happening all over London. We need these cases investigated properly if we want anything to change.”

John Worboys met his ex-wife Jean Clayton in Hackney in 1991 at the Pickle Free House on Hackney Road, where she was working as a stripper. He was living in the area at the time.

During his crimes, Worboys would entice his victims by offering them spiked champagne, telling them he was celebrating a lottery win and showing them a bag of cash.

Worboys was allowed to walk free after police questioning on twelve occasions before he was finally caught in February 2008.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is reviewing the investigation by police into one of the rapes, an attack which took place in July 2007. Deborah Glass of the IPCC said that there were “very specific concerns about this investigation.”

Metropolitan Police have since changed their procedures for dealing with rape to ensure that all cases involving serious sexual offences are reported to the Crown Prosecution Service.


Josie Ensor and Katherine Faulkner