"Monster" London cop who abducted and killed Sarah Everard given life sentence
London, UK - A British cop has been sentenced to life in prison for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, a case that prompted fears and debate about women's safety in the UK and many other countries.
Wayne Couzens (48) strangled the 33-year-old marketing executive with his police belt after kidnapping her under the guise of a fake arrest for breaking a coronavirus lockdown earlier this year.
Reading the sentence, Lord Justice Fulford at the Old Bailey court in London described the circumstances of the murder as "grotesque." He said the seriousness of the case was so "exceptionally high" that it warranted a whole life order, the most severe punishment available in Britain.
"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," the judge said.
He paid tribute to the dignity of Everard’s family, whose statements in court revealed the human impact of Couzen’s "warped, selfish and brutal offending which was both sexual and homicidal."
Couzens shook in the dock as he was sent down to begin his sentence.
Murderer only fired from force months after crime
The court had heard how Couzens used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant card and handcuffs to snatch Everard as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.
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 and raped Everard.
Everard, who lived in Brixton, south London, had been strangled with Couzens’ police issue belt by 2:30 AM the following morning.
Couzens then burned 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 Everard, whose remains were found by police dogs on March 10.
Police waited for two hours before moving in to detain the officer, giving him the chance to wipe his mobile phone beforehand.
In an emergency interview at his home, Couzens concocted a fake story that he had been "leant" on by a gang which forced him to hand over "a girl."
He went on to plead guilty to Everard’s kidnap, rape, and murder and was sacked from the force in July.
Couzens couldn't "look at the Everards"
On Wednesday, Everard’s parents, Jeremy and Susan, and sister Katie asked Couzens to look at them, condemning him as a "monster" as he sat quaking in the dock with his head bowed.
Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick also attended court to hear how one of her own officers had abused his position to carry out his crimes.
Prosecutor Tom Little QC suggested the case was so exceptional and unprecedented that it could warrant a whole life order, meaning Couzens would die in jail.
Couzens’ defense lawyer Jim Sturman QC urged the judge to hand him a lengthy life sentence, meaning he would be eligible for parole in his 80s.
Sturman said: "The defendant was invited to look at the Everards. He could not, I am told."
"He is ashamed. What he has done is terrible. He deserves a very lengthy finite term, but he did all he could after he was arrested to minimize the wicked harm that he did."
Cover photo: IMAGO / Cover-Images