Wayne Couzens kidnapped Sarah Everard using handcuffs and ‘fake Covid arrest’

Metropolitan Police officer to be sentenced after raping and murdering 33-year-old before burning body in fridge in woods

Chiara Giordano
Old Bailey
Thursday 30 September 2021 00:00
Ex-police officer who kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard faces sentence

Sarah Everard was kidnapped by Wayne Couzens in a “fake Covid arrest” with handcuffs before he went on to rape and murder her, a court has heard.

Couzens, 48, was a serving PC with the Metropolitan Police when he snatched Ms Everard as she walked home in Clapham, south London, on the evening of 3 March this year.

At the start of his two-day sentencing at the Old Bailey in London, the court heard how Ms Everard was the victim of “deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation, fire”.

The victim’s mother Susan, a charity worker, faced her daughter’s killer, telling the packed court she has been left “broken hearted” by what he has done.

“She was my precious little girl, our youngest child,” she said. “The feeling of loss is so great it is visceral. And with the sorrow comes waves of panic at not being able to see her again.

“I can never talk to her, never hold her again, and never more be a part of her life.”

Susan Everard said she is “haunted by the horror” of what happened to her daughter, describing the burning of her body as “the final insult”.

“Our lives will never be the same,” she said. “We should be a family of five, but now we are four. Her death leaves a yawning chasm in our lives that cannot be filled.”

A former boyfriend described the 33-year-old marketing executive as “extremely intelligent, savvy and streetwise” and “not a gullible person”. He said she would not have got into a vehicle with a stranger unless by “force”.

Couzens was said to be wearing his police belt with handcuffs and a rectangular black pouch, similar to a pepper spray holder, when he kidnapped Ms Everard.

Prosecutor Tom Little QC told the court Couzens snatched Ms Everard in a “false arrest”, by “handcuffing her and showing his warrant card”.

The disgraced police officer had been involved in Covid patrols earlier in the year, the court heard, and would therefore have been aware of the regulations and the language used to enforce them.

Mr Little said the fact Ms Everard had been to a friend’s house for dinner at the height of the lockdown on the night she was kidnapped may have made her more likely to submit to accusations she had breached the rules in some way.

The court heard a couple travelling in a car on the South Circular witnessed the kidnapping.

A court artist sketch of former Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens (centre) at the Old Bailey in London

The passenger in the car described seeing a woman with one arm behind her back as a man in dark clothing began to place a handcuff on her other arm.

CCTV footage played in court showed two people – Couzens and Ms Everard – standing on a pavement behind a stationary white car that had its hazard lights flashing.

Ms Everard’s kidnapping, as she made her way home to her flat in Brixton, took less than five minutes, the court was told.

She was handcuffed at about 9.34pm, detained in Couzens’ hire car by 9.37pm and they were on their way to Kent a minute later, Mr Little said.

Everard was kidnapped in south London

The court was shown CCTV footage of the defendant’s hire vehicle in Dover shortly after 11.30pm as he transferred Ms Everard to his own black Seat car.

Couzens, from Deal, Kent, then drove to a remote rural area of Dover he knew well, where he parked up and raped Ms Everard.

The court heard the prosecution could not pinpoint the exact time Ms Everard was killed.

However, Mr Little said she must have been dead by about 2.30am on 4 March when Couzens pulled into a Dover service station and bought drinks.

He went on to return the Vauxhall hire car, having driven 300 miles.

Mr Little said Couzens threw his victim’s Apple iPhone into a flow relief channel in Sandwich within hours of her murder, but it was found by a police diver later that morning.

On 5 March, Couzens bought petrol that he used to burn Ms Everard’s body, clothing and possessions in a refrigerator in woods in Ashford, Kent, close to a plot of land he owned, the court heard.

Having burnt his victim’s body, Couzens went on to call a vet about his dog.

Ex-Met officer Wayne Couzens

He later moved Ms Everard’s body using “green bags that he had purchased specifically for that task to a pond deeper into the woods but which was only about 130 metres from his plot,” Mr Little said.

Ms Everard’s body was discovered on 10 March – a week after she disappeared.

She was found after police dogs drew the attention of their handlers to a small pond, where the handles of a green builder’s bag were visible above the surface of the water.

“One of the officers present reported that he could see what appeared to be a body in the bag,” said Mr Little.

The court heard how Couzens told a psychiatrist he strangled Ms Everard using his police belt, which was consistent with the conclusion of a post-mortem examination that found she died from compression of the neck.

Couzens previously entered a guilty plea to the kidnap, rape and murder of Ms Everard.

He is due to be sentenced at the Old Bailey on Thursday.