Wayne Couzens Sentenced To Life For Kidnap, Rape And Murder Of Sarah Everard
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Warning: Distressing content
Wayne Couzens has been sentenced to life in prison for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard.
The Metropolitan Police officer was sentenced on Thursday after a two-day hearing that contained new and upsetting details about Sarah's abduction back in March.
The marketing executive was walking home from her friend’s house in south London when she was abducted and murdered, with her body found in woodland a week later.
The 33-year-old's death sparked a nationwide discussion on sexism and misogyny in Britain, with many women calling for stricter penalties against men guilty of predatory behaviour.
Couzens will face a whole-life order for his crime, meaning he will die in prison. He is the first police officer to ever be given this sentence.
Sentencing Wayne Couzens for the murder of Sarah Everard, Lord Justice Fulford said the circumstances of the case are “devastating, tragic and wholly brutal”.
The judge said Ms Everard was “a wholly blameless victim” of a “grotesque” series of offences which culminated in her death and disposal of her body.
The evidence gathered against Couzens was “unanswerable” and there was “no credible innocent explanation” for it, he said.
Couzens went “hunting a lone female to kidnap and rape” having planned in “unspeakably” grim detail, the judge said.
The defendant’s preparations included taking some of his police kit with him and lying to his family about working on the night of the murder, the Old Bailey heard.
The judge paid tribute to the dignity of Ms Everard’s family, whose statements in court revealed the human impact of the “warped, selfish and brutal offending which was both sexual and homicidal.”
Lord Justice Fulford said Couzens tried to “minimise his true responsibility” for what had occurred from the moment he spoke to police.
He said the defendant must have realised he “may well need to kill the woman he intended to abduct and rape” but that did not become a “definite outcome” before events began to unfold.
On Wednesday, Couzens came face to face with his victim’s family when he was brought into the dock of the Old Bailey for the start of his sentencing.
Prosecutor Tom Little QC said that Sarah's disappearance was one of the most widely publicised missing person investigations the country has ever seen.
After her body was discovered in woodland, the hashtag “she was just walking home” began trending.
But Mr Little said: “Whilst it is impossible to summarise what the defendant did to Sarah Everard in just five words, if it had to be done then it would be more appropriate to do so as deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation, fire.”
The court heard for the first time how Couzens handcuffed and falsely arrested Sarah as she made her way home - possibly under the premise of breaching lockdown restrictions - and lured her inside his rented car.
Couzens initially denied any involvement, saying he was being threatened by an 'eastern European gang', but was formally charged with Sarah’s murder on 12th March.
He pleaded guilty to murder, having previously pleaded guilty to kidnap and rape, on 9th July.
Couzens was formally sacked from the Metropolitan Police shortly after, with assistant commissioner Helen Ball saying: “Couzens has betrayed everything we, the police, stand for and following his guilty pleas and convictions I have dismissed him today.
“All of us in the Met are horrified, sickened and angered by this man’s crimes. Sarah was a young woman who had her life cruelly snatched away from her. I know she is sorely missed by so many people and our thoughts remain with her loved ones. We are so profoundly sorry.”
The Met Police was hit by widespread criticism for the way it policed a peaceful vigil in Clapham Common, with women who simply just wanted to pay their respects being arrested and roughly handled by officers.
Speaking this week, they said in a statement: “We are sickened, angered and devastated by this man’s crimes which betray everything we stand for. Our thoughts are with Sarah’s family and her many friends. It is not possible for us to imagine what they are going through.
“We recognise his actions raise many questions and concerns but we will not be commenting further until the hearing is complete.”