Who was Sarah Everard? The ‘bright and beautiful’ woman who was a ‘shining example’

Disgraced former police officer Wayne Couzens could face life behind bars as he is set to be sentenced

Chiara Giordano,Zoe Tidman,Matt Mathers
Thursday 30 September 2021 10:13 BST
Duchess of Cambridge visits Sarah Everard vigil

A Metropolitan Police officer is to be sentenced over the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, the 33-year-old London marketing executive whose body was found in a Kent woodland more than a week after she first went missing.

PC Wayne Couzens pleaded guilty to Ms Everard’s rape and kidnap in June before admitting to her murder a month later while locked up at Belmarsh high-security jail.

After Ms Everard’s body was identified, her family issued a statement, describing her as a “shining example”. They said: “Sarah was bright and beautiful – a wonderful daughter and sister. She was kind and thoughtful, caring and dependable.”

The statement added: “She always put others first and had the most amazing sense of humour. She was strong and principled and a shining example to us all. We are very proud of her and she brought so much joy to our lives.”

What else do we know about Sarah Everard?

Sarah Everard was a 33-year-old who lived in Brixton, south London, but was originally from York.

She is said to have graduated from St Cuthbert’s Society at Durham University in 2008 before moving to London and working as a marketing executive.

Ms Everard was last seen wearing a green rain jacket, navy trousers with a white diamond pattern and turquoise and orange trainers. She was also thought to have been wearing green earphones and a white beanie hat.

A CCTV image of Sarah Everard captured the night she disappeared

Who are her family, boyfriend and friends?

Ms Everard was believed to have had a 15-minute phone call with her boyfriend Josh Lowth before she disappeared.

Her father, Jeremy, who is a professor of electronics at the University of York, and mother, Sue, travelled from their home in York to London to help in the search alongside her brother, James, and sister, Katie, after she went missing.

Her family said her disappearance was completely out of character.

Rose Woollard, who met Ms Everard while studying at Durham University, described her friend as “beautiful, thoughtful and incredibly kind” and said she was looking forward to a starting a new job.

Sarah Everard disappeared on 3 March while walking home to Brixton from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London

Ms Woollard told the BBC: “She has always been an exceptional friend, dropping everything to be there to support her friends, whenever they need her.

“It was only recently that she was telling me the good news about her new role as a senior marketing account manager, which she was excited to start.”

What happened to her?

Ms Everard vanished while walking home from a friend’s in south London on 3 March.

She is thought to have walked through Clapham Common towards her house in Brixton, a journey which should have taken about 50 minutes.

She was last seen on a doorbell camera walking along the A205 Poynders Road towards Tulse Hill at about 9.30pm on the night she went missing.

London’s Metropolitan Police raised the alarm on 6 March after Ms Everard failed to get in touch with friends and family, and released a CCTV image of her.

Shortly before midnight on 9 March, police announced a serving Metropolitan Police officer had been arrested at a property in Kent in connection with Ms Everard’s disappearance. At this point, no further details were given about the man or why he had been arrested.

Police said a woman had also been arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Police search a house on Freemen’s Way in Deal, Kent

Police officers at the Great Chart Golf & Leisure Country Club in Ashford, Kent, on 11 March

On 10 March, detectives were photographed searching a house in Deal, Kent, and woodland near Ashford.

Later that day, police revealed the detained police officer, 48-year-old Wayne Couzens, had been arrested on suspicion of kidnap on 9 March and had been further arrested on suspicion of murder and a separate allegation of indecent exposure.

Police said he was a member of the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, the unit responsible for guarding the Westminster estate including Downing Street and the Palace of Westminster, as well as foreign embassies in London.

Wayne Couzens, 48, was a member of the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command unit

That evening, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick announced officers searching woodland in Ashford had discovered what appeared to be human remains.

On 12 March, police confirmed the body discovered was that of Ms Everard.

What is the latest in the investigation?

PC Wayne Couzens, 48, appeared at the Old Bailey on 8 June, where he pleaded guilty to the kidnap and rape of Sarah Everard.

A month later, on 9 July, he pleaded guilty to murder.

His defence barrister, James Sturman QC, told the court at the time: “His pleas represent truly genuine guilt and remorse for what he did and as he put it to us this morning, he will bear this burden for the rest of his life and he deserves to. Those are his words.”

The former officer, who was officially dismissed from the Metropolitan Police on 16 July, is due to sentenced for his crimes during a two-day hearing on 29 and 30 September.

At the start of his two-day sentencing at the Old Bailey in London, the court heard how Couzens snatched Ms Everard in a “false arrest”, by “handcuffing her and showing his warrant card”.

Ms Everard‘s parents and sister condemned her killer as a “monster” as he sat in the dock of the Old Bailey with his head bowed.

On Thursday, Couzens’ defence barrister Jim Sturman QC is expected to mitigate on his behalf before Lord Justice Fulford hands down his sentence.

He could face a whole life sentence, which could mean Couzens may never be released from prison.

Additional reporting by agencies

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