Sarah Everard was kidnapped and murdered by the Metropolitan Police officer as she walked home from a friend's house in March this year.
Warning: This article contains descriptions that readers may find disturbing.
Former Met Police officer Wayne Couzens has been given a whole-life sentence for the murder, kidnap and rape of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, who went missing on her walk home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London on 3 March.
48-year-old Couzens, who was working within the diplomatic and parliamentary protection unit of the police at the time he carried out the heinous crime, pleaded guilty who pleaded guilty in July to the murder. He will die in prison, despite attempts from his defence lawyer, Jim Sturman QC, to lessen his sentence – argueing in court that his deserved the chance to “redeem himself” as he was filled with “self-loathing”.
The judge, Lord Justice Fulford, described the former policeman’s crime as “devastating, tragic and wholly brutal”. He added that the severity of the crime was so “exceptionally high” that it deserved a whole-life order.
“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 or ideological cause,” said the judge.
Prior to his sentencing, there was a two-day hearing at the Old Bailey. On the first day in court, it was heard that Couzens falsely arrested and handcuffed Sarah before abducting and then killing her. Prosecutor Tom Little QC told the court that the police constable had shown Sarah Everard his warrant card when making the fake arrest.
“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,” said the lawyer.
Sarah’s body was found in a woodland stream in Ashford, Kent, close to land that was owned by Couzens. It followed a week-long search for the young marketing executive, who had been reported missing by her boyfriend after he was unable to contact her following the walk home. The walk should have taken around 50 minutes, but Sarah never made it home.
Her death stirred thousands of young women to speak out against the systemic problem that causes such senseless violence against women. At a vigil held on Clapham Common, which was part of Sarah’s route home on the night she died, mourners including Kate Middleton paid their respects with candles and flowers, standing in solidarity for women’s safety. Disappointingly, the vigil was later broken up by police, which caused uproar.
In a statement made by the Metropolitan Police in regards to the sentencing of Wayne Couzens, they said: “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.”