Sarah Everard: Wayne Couzens given full life sentence for kidnap, rape and murder of 33-year-old

Judge concludes seriousness of police officer’s ‘grotesque’ crimes so ‘exceptionally high’ they warrant rare whole life order

Chiara Giordano
Old Bailey
Thursday 30 September 2021 20:08 BST
Priti Patel calls Sarah Everard's murderer Wayne Couzens a 'monster'

Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens has received a full life sentence for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard.

Lord Justice Fulford told Couzens he had shown “no genuine contrition” for his “grotesque” crimes as he sentenced him to life behind bars for killing the 33-year-old marketing executive.

Sentencing the killer at the Old Bailey in London on Thursday, the judge said the seriousness of the case was so “exceptionally high” it warranted a whole life order.

He added: “The misuse of a police officer’s role such as occurred in this case in order to kidnap, rape and murder a lone victim is of equal seriousness as a murder for the purpose of advancing a political, religious ideological cause.”

Couzens kept his head bowed in the dock and did not look up as he was sent down to begin his sentence.

Ms Everard’s parents Jeremy and Susan hugged those around them as their daughter’s killer, flanked by two prison officers, was taken down to the cells.

Later, they issued a statement saying they were pleased with the sentence, saying: “Nothing can make things better, nothing can bring Sarah back, but knowing he will be imprisoned forever brings some relief.

“Wayne Couzens held a position of trust as a police officer and we are outraged and sickened that he abused this trust in order to lure Sarah to her death. The world is a safer place with him imprisoned.”

Lord Justice Fulford paid tribute to the “dignity” shown by Ms Everard’s family while reading their victim impact statements in court on Wednesday, which he said showed the “human consequences of this warped and brutal offending that was both sexual and homicidal”.

The court had heard how Couzens used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant card and handcuffs to abduct Ms Everard as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, on the evening of 3 March this year.

The firearms officer, who had clocked off from a 12-hour shift at the American embassy that morning, drove to a secluded rural area near Dover in Kent, where he parked up and raped Ms Everard.

Ms Everard, who lived in Brixton, had been strangled with Couzens’ police issue belt by 2.30am the following morning.

The married father-of-two then burnt her body in a refrigerator in an area of woodland he owned in Hoads Wood, near Ashford, before dumping the remains in a nearby pond.

He was arrested at his home in Deal, Kent, after police connected him to a hire car he used to abduct Ms Everard, whose remains were found by police dogs on 10 March.

Lord Justice Fulford said he had no doubt Couzens used his position as a police officer to coerce Ms Everard into the car.

He said: “It is most likely he suggested to Sarah Everard that she had breached the restrictions on movement that were being enforced during that stage of the pandemic.”

The judge added that the exact timings of when Ms Everard was raped and murdered were still not known and the killer had “at no stage offered any kind of full explanation as to what occurred during those fateful hours”.

In a statement released after the sentence was handed down, Ms Everard’s family said: “We are very pleased that Wayne Couzens has received a full life sentence and will spend the rest of his life in jail.

“Sarah lost her life needlessly and cruelly and all the years of life she had yet to enjoy were stolen from her.

“It is almost seven months since Sarah died and the pain of losing her is overwhelming. We miss her all the time. She was a beautiful young woman in looks and character and our lives are the poorer without her ... We hold her safe in our hearts.”

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