Wayne Couzens has been sentenced to a whole life order for the murder of Sarah Everard.
Everard was reported missing on March 3 after she failed to return home after dinner with a friend. She was last seen in Clapham, south London, and was reported missing the following day by her boyfriend.
Couzens was arrested on March 9 after Everard’s body was discovered 30 miles from his home in Kent. He later pleaded guilty to the rape, kidnap and murder of the 33-year-old marketing executive, who had to be formally identified through her dental records.
A two-day sentencing hearing for Couzens started on September 29, with the former Metropolitan Police officer taking to the docks of the Old Bailey again today as Lord Justice Fulford described Everard’s murder as ‘devastating’ and ‘tragic’.
Fulford said the murder happened in ‘wholly brutal circumstances’, and that Everard was ‘a wholly blameless victim of a grotesque series of circumstances that culminated in her death’. He described her as an ‘intelligent, resourceful, talented and much-loved young woman’, and said Couzens spent at least a month travelling London in preparation for the kidnapping.
Per Sky News, the judge commented, ‘The degree of preparation… is to be stressed. He lied to his family about working a night shift on the 3rd of March.’ Fulford also said Couzens went out ‘hunting a lone female to kidnap and rape’ and that he carried out ‘warped, selfish and brutal offending that was both sexual and homicidal’.
Fulford ultimately sentenced Couzens to a whole life order for the kidnap, rape and murder of Everard.
Everard’s last moments, Fulford said, were ‘as bleak and agonising as it is possible to imagine’. Following her disappearance, he noted the ‘increasing sense of desperation’ felt by her boyfriend and family members who have been ‘irredeemably blighted by the defendant’s crime’.
According to a doctor who spoke to Fulford, it ‘seems likely’ Couzens may have suffered from episodes of mild depression, however the doctor said there was ‘no link between the depression and these offences’. Fulford made clear he had ‘no doubt’ Couzens had hired a vehicle to pass as a police car, and noted that the former officer had ‘at no stage’ offered a full account of the events that took place on the night of Everard’s kidnapping.
Fulford admitted that determining whether Couzens went out to kill someone that evening is ‘a difficult issue’, though concluded Couzens must have realised he may have to kill the woman he kidnapped during the time he spent planning the crime.
Couzens has been remanded in custody since he first appeared in court on Saturday, March 13. He was officially fired by the Metropolitan Police on July 16.
During his sentencing, Couzens’ crimes against Everard were described by prosecutor Tom Little QC in five words: ‘Deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation, fire,’ Sky News reports.
The prosecutor called the disappearance of the 33-year-old one of the ‘most widely publicised missing person investigations this country has seen’.
Sarah Everard was only walking home when she was taken off the street from her family, friends and colleagues by the defendant on the evening of 3 March 2021.
Little detailed how, hours after Couzens had murdered Everard, he threw her phone into a river in Sandwich, Kent. A broken fragment of her sim card had later been found in Couzens’ car.
Furthermore, it was revealed in court that Couzens was in debt by £29,000 and in a dispute with the Met Police due to the scale of his pay. Despite this, his colleagues said they had viewed him as a ‘family man’.
It was also disclosed that Couzens had a dating site profile on which he had previously made contact with an escort. Members of the public also claimed to having seen him wearing his handcuffs on his belt while off duty, and that when questioned about it, he said he was an ‘undercover police officer’.
Josh Lowth, Everard’s boyfriend, said he spoke to her for 14 minutes during part of her way home, and said she would not have got into a random person’s vehicle without some sort of coercion. He called her ‘extremely intelligent, savvy and streetwise’ and pressed that she had not been intoxicated that night.
According to Little, Everard was ‘arrested’ by Couzens on the night of her disappearance, who showed her a warrant card before putting her inside a car he had hired from Dover to use in the abduction.
Little stated the defendant had ‘planned’ the attack, and noted a ‘significant purchase’ Couzens made at a Tesco in Kensington, where he bought a pack of 14 hair bands.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 802 9999 between 12pm–2.30pm and 7pm– 9.30pm every day. Alternatively, you can contact Victim Support free on 08 08 16 89 111 available 24/7, every day of the year, including Christmas
Male Survivors Partnership is available to support adult male survivors of sexual abuse and rape. You can contact the organisation on their website or on their free helpline 0808 800 5005, open 9am–5pm Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays; 8am–8pm Tuesdays and Thursdays; 10am–2pm Saturdays
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