Ten women drugged and sexually assaulted by ‘black-cab rapist’ told that action over car insurers’ liability has failed
Ten women drugged and raped by John Worboys, the licensed London taxi driver who became known as the “black-cab rapist”, have lost a crucial step in their battle for damages.
The victims were told by a judge at the high court in London that their action over the liability of motor insurers had failed.
Worboys, 54, was jailed indefinitely in 2009 after being convicted at of drugging and sexually assaulting women while working in an insured cab.
Mr Justice Silber dismissed an application against Inceptum Insurance Company Limited, formerly known as HSBC Insurance (UK) Limited, which had insured the taxi Worboys used to commit his crimes.
The judge said he had the greatest sympathy for the women “in the light of the horrifying experiences that they suffered at the hands of Worboys”, but said his duty was to “follow the appropriate legal principles”.
During the hearing in April, Edwin Glasgow QC, acting for the victims, said Worboys used his taxi as a lure to trick unsuspecting young women into believing their safety was ensured by two things – the black cab and the licensed driver.
“It is our submission that the use of the taxi and the part that it played in the attacks that occurred during the course of the journeys was essential and material,” he said.
“The taxi did not just happen to be at the place where the assaults occurred. It was the symbol of security which seduced these young women to believe they were safe.”
The taxi became the place where the women were “falsely imprisoned”, where Worboys made up his mind to attack them, and where they were poisoned – and it “provided the means” by which the attacks could take place.
But Silber found that the bodily injuries suffered by the women did not arise out of the use of Worboys’ vehicle. He said Worboys’ use of the vehicle at the material times was not a use insured by the policy issued by the insurers.
The judge said: “It is clear that the fact of the location of the offences of administering the sedatives and of committing or attempting the sexual assaults occurred in Worboys’ taxi, but that is not conclusive or by itself of any real potency.
“The injuries of the claimants were caused by the criminal acts of Worboys in administering sedatives and then in attempting to, or actually assaulting the claimants,” he said. “They did not arise out of the use of the taxi on a road.”