Life in jail for Sarah Everard’s killer isn’t enough to prevent future violence against women and girls

Editorial: Women and girls have been the most betrayed, both by this crime and a wider official indifference

Thursday 30 September 2021 21:30

If evil exists then one face of it would be that of Wayne Couzens. During the trial, the prosecution stated that Couzens’s crime could be summarised in five gruesome words: deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation, fire. That it was premeditated, indeed meticulously planned, has become clear from the various purchases Couzens made in person and online in the weeks before he struck. He conducted reconnaissance missions. He hired a car especially for the purpose. He purchased petrol for one purpose only. He used his specialist knowledge to avoid detection. He knew exactly what he was doing.

The crime was all the more heinous because it was committed by a serving police officer, using his lawful warrant card and abusing the respect of the office he held. All Sarah Everard wanted to do that evening was walk home safely. A police officer, there to protect the public, took her life. Her family told of how the manner of her death deepened their grief, and of what a fine young woman Sarah was.

Sarah’s broken mother, Susan, stood up in court and said that she keeps a dressing gown of her daughter’s to hug, as it still smells of her. The friends and family of Sarah have also been tortured. Yet Couzens, confronted by the human consequences of his actions, showed little reaction and throughout has shown no contrition, merely a plea of guilty after an absurd alibi about Romanian gangsters collapsed. The judge was right to use the exceptional features of the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard to impose an unusual whole-life tariff on Couzens.

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