The police officer killer of much-loved marketing executive Sarah Everard (pictured) was sentenced to life without parole today for one of the most heinous and shocking crimes in recent history
Britain’s most hated policeman Wayne Couzens was today jailed for the rest of his life with no chance of parole because he ‘misused’ his ‘office and authority’ as a Met officer to kidnap, rape and murder his helpless and brave victim Sarah Everard.
Lord Justice Fulford told Couzens, who looked at his feet and hands throughout today’s Old Bailey hearing, he is a ‘warped’ and ‘self-pitying’ killer who relied on his position and knowledge of Covid-19 lockdown laws to carry out one of the most shocking crimes in recent history.
Couzens, 48, is the first police officer in British history to receive a whole life sentence and today the Met faces grave questions about how a twisted predator with a history of flashing and addiction to violent porn remained in their midst and was even given the job of an armed officer guarding London’s embassies.
There are again calls for Commissioner Cressida Dick to resign after yet another scandal on her watch after it emerged Couzens was nicknamed ‘The Rapist’ by former colleagues and was still on duty despite reports to his own force he had exposed himself to two women just before he abducted and killed the marketing executive, 33, on the night of March 3 this year.
Accusing him of ‘eroding’ public trust in police and making women more frightened to walk the streets, judge Lord Justice Fulford said: ‘Sarah Everard was a wholly blameless victim of a grotesque series of offences’, adding: ‘She was simply walking home’.
The judge made the killer stand and face the court – but he kept his head bowed – as he handed down a whole life term reserved for around 70 of Britain’s most dangerous criminals including serial killers and terrorists.
He said: ‘Wayne Couzens, you kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard, having long planned a violent sexual assault on a yet-to-be-selected victim who you intended to coerce into your custody.
‘You have irretrievably damaged the lives of Sarah Everard’s family and friends – you have eroded the confidence that the public are entitled to have in the police forces of England and Wales.
‘I have seen no evidence of genuine contrition on your part as opposed to evident self-pity and attempts by you to avoid or minimise the proper consequences of what you have done’.
Couzens, who has not said a word in the two-day hearing, shook slightly as he was jailed in front of his victim’s family, who calmly looked on from the well of the court.
Sarah Everard’s parents Jeremy and Susan who bravely faced their daughter’s killer and called him a ‘monster’ and ‘the very worst of humanity’, sighed with relief, clasped hands and hugged police officers after Couzens shuffled out of the dock to be taken down to the cells.
Couzens is currently being held in Belmarsh Prison in south-east London but may be sent to spend the rest of his life on the ‘Beast Wing’ at HMP Full Sutton, where he would be kept with other killers including Jeremy Bamber and John Cannan as well as serial rapists and paedophiles being protected from the rest of the prison population.
As Couzens received the most severe prison sentence ever handed to a serving police officer, it also emerged today:
- Wayne Couzens should be considered over unsolved murders and crimes, expert criminologists urged today as they said ‘everything suggested he had done this before’;
- Harriet Harman today demanded under-fire Met chief Cressida Dick step down, as the force faced questions over how killer cop Wayne Couzens – nicknamed ‘The Rapist’ – was able to ‘slip through the net’ after a raft of missed opportunities;
Sarah’s father Jeremy, mother Susan, sister Katie and brother James arrive at the Old Bailey at a previous hearing. They confronted Couzens yesterday but he refused to look at them
Couzens was swept into the Old Bailey this morning to be sentenced for one of the most revolting and repulsive crimes in recent history. He will now never see the light of day as a free man
Couzens had worked a shift as a police officer (left) on the day he abducted Sarah – three days after he had been reported to police for flashing two women. He was arrested (right) and initially lied saying he had not killed her, and had handed her to an eastern European gang
This is the moment, caught on CCTV, that Couzens staged the arrest using covid rules before cuffing her and putting her in a rented car. Miss Everard is beneath the yellow arrow while Couzens’ arrow is purple
Couzens sitting in the front seat of the hire car, after he falsely ‘arrested’ Miss Everard (who is seated in the back) outside Poynders Court on Poynders Road, Clapham. It was only after they left London that she may have realised her fate
Whole life orders: Couzens is given a rare ‘life means life’ sentence that will see him die in jail
Whole life orders are the most severe punishment available in the UK criminal justice system for those who commit the most serious crimes.
Wayne Couzens joins a string of some of the country’s most dangerous offenders who are expected to die behind bars.
There are 60 criminals serving whole life orders, according to Government figures to the end of June.
They will never be considered for release, unless there are exceptional compassionate grounds to warrant it.
Milly Dowler’s killer Levi Bellfield is thought to be the only criminal in UK legal history to be serving two whole life orders – for her murder, the killings of Marsha McDonnell and Amelie Delagrange as well as the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy.
Other notorious criminals serving whole life orders include: Gloucester serial killer Rose West (pictured), Michael Adebolajo, one of Fusilier Lee Rigby’s killers; Mark Bridger, who murdered five-year-old April Jones in Wales; neo-Nazi Thomas Mair who killed MP Jo Cox; Grindr serial killer Stephen Port; and most recently the Reading terror attacker Khairi Saadallah, who murdered three men in a park.
Before they died, Moors murderer Ian Brady and his girlfriend Myra Hindley, Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, and doctor Harold Shipman – thought to be one of Britain’s most prolific serial killers – were also among those serving whole life orders.
In the past, home secretaries could issue whole life tariffs and these are now determined by judges.
Under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, the Government is trying to expand the use of whole life orders for premeditated murder of a child.
The reforms would also allow judges to hand out the maximum sentence to 18 to 20-year-olds in exceptional cases, such as for acts of terrorism leading to mass loss of life.
We will also give judges the discretion, in exceptional circumstances, to impose a whole life order on offenders aged 18 or over but under 21.
Setting out why Couzens deserved a whole life term, the judge said the circumstances of the case are ‘devastating, tragic and wholly brutal’ and the evidence gathered against Couzens by his former colleagues at the Met and Kent Police 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, adding: ‘Notwithstanding his guilty pleas, in my view the defendant throughout sought to minimise his true responsibility for what occurred. At no stage has he offered any kind of full explanation as to what occurred in the fateful few hours’.
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.
Earlier Couzens’ QC told the Old Bailey earlier that Couzens shouldn’t die behind bars because there have been ‘worse crimes’ than the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard.
Couzens’ defence lawyer Jim Sturman claimed his client, 48, is ‘filled with self-loathing, abject shame and remorse’ for killing Miss Everard, 33, despite his client never offering any explanation or public apology for what he has done.
Mr Sturman admitted that Couzens still cannot face Sarah’s parents, who are in court today and told him yesterday to look at them when they described their collective grief, torment and rage because of what he did to their daughter.
He said: ‘He 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 minimise the wicked harm that he did.’
A whole life term has only been handed to 50-plus of the most dangerous prisoners in British history since the death penalty was abolished, including Rose West, the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, Dennis Nilsen, Dr Death Harold Shipman and most recently in 2021, Reading jihadi Khairi Saadallah.
But Jim Sturman QC claimed that while Couzens had pre-planned the abduction, it was ‘not inevitable’ that Sarah would be murdered, adding he should be shown some leniency for pleading guilty and sparing her family the ‘agony’ of a three-week trial. He also said Couzens mental health problems were ‘genuine’ and he had ‘not played the system’.
He said: ‘There is very little evidence he drove from Kent to London with murder on his mind’, arguing he bought the items to dispose of the body after she was strangled to death with his police-issue belt, adding: ‘Nothing I say today is at all intended to minimise the horror of what Couzens did’ and that Couzens ‘makes no excuses’.
Mr Sturman said Couzens’s guilty pleas had saved the Everards ‘the terror’ of what the verdicts would be. He said his family struggled to reconcile how ‘the man they loved’ who had given ‘no indication of violence towards the person’ could have ‘behaved in this way’.
Furious MPs and campaigners demand Cressida Dick ‘must RESIGN’ over missed chances to stop killer cop nicknamed ‘The Rapist’
The Met is already being investigated by the police watchdog for its alleged failure to investigate two flashings attributed to Couzens at a McDonald’s in south London three days before he kidnapped, raped and murdered Miss Everard. He used his police ID to carry out a fake Covid arrest, cuffed the 33-year-old in his car and then strangled her using his police belt.
There are also questions how the sexual deviant, 48, passed vetting to become an armed parliamentary and diplomatic protection officer despite numerous rumours of his bad character, including claims he was addicted to violent pornography and had mistreated women.
Today, Harriet Harman demanded scandal prone Dame Cressida step down, tweeting: ‘Sarah Everard was simply walking home. Women must be able to trust the police not fear them. Women’s confidence in police will have been shattered. Urgent action needed. Met Commissioner must resign.’
Diane Abbott tweeted: ‘Harriet Harman is right. Women should be able to trust the police. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick must resign.’
Meanwhile, Labour leader Keir Starmer told LBC: ‘There were obviously warning signs, so how did he get through get the net? That is the crucial question that the Met must now answer.’
The comments that heap fresh pressure on Dame Cressida after a raft of scandals, from the disastrous Operation Midland probe into fantasy claims of VIP paedophiles to claims of a ‘cover-up’ over the murder of private detective Daniel Morgan and allegations of excessive force at a vigil for Miss Everard.
Mr Sturman added: ‘He appeared to be living a life as a law-abiding man with a loving family and his colleagues described him as calm and friendly.
‘Nothing I say today is at all intended to minimise the horror of what the defendant did that night and after. He makes no excuses for his actions, he accepts he will receive, and he deserves, a severe punishment. No right-minded person… can feel anything other than revulsion for what he did.
‘He does not seek to make excuses for anything that he did and he is filled with self-loathing and abject shame. And he should be.’
Couzens cut a pathetic figure as he refused to raise his head in the dock as Sarah Everard’s family told him of their torment, rage and being haunted by her final hours. Couzens, a married father of two, even walked his family in woodland yards from where he had dumped Sarah’s body.
Her mother Susan faced him at the Old Bailey yesterday and in a brave and moving victim impact statement called him ‘the very worst of humanity’ and revealed she wakes every morning and always thinks: ‘Don’t get in the car, Sarah. Don’t believe him. Run!’. She added: ‘I am repulsed by the thought of Wayne Couzens and what he did to Sarah’.
Her father, Jeremy Everard, demanded Couzens look at him while he was giving his testimony but his daughter’s murderer refused, having kept his head bowed throughout yesterday’s six-hour hearing.
The murder of Sarah Everard by Wayne Couzens was ‘a truly evil thing to do’, Nick Price of the Crown Prosecution Service said.
In a statement, he said: ‘Today our thoughts are with the family of Sarah Everard. We can only begin to imagine their suffering which will, of course, not end with this sentence.
‘All of us in the CPS have been deeply affected by what happened to Sarah. Wayne Couzens treated her with vile depravity. It was a truly evil thing to do.
‘The investigation in this case by the Metropolitan Police was meticulous, and our joint prosecution team worked hard to bring the strongest possible case to court.
‘The court has now heard the evidence that showed his deliberate planning, and continued efforts to cover up his crimes.
‘We all feel betrayed that Couzens abused his position as a police officer to commit such abhorrent crimes. All of us should be free to walk our streets safely.’
The Police Federation said ‘predator’ Couzens was ‘an absolute disgrace to the police service’.
How DID he stay a cop? Multiple chances police missed to stop killer
FLASHING 1 – A male motorist reported a man who was identified as Wayne Couzens – then working for the Civil Nuclear Constabulary – for driving naked from the waist down in 2015. An IOPC inquiry is underway over Kent Police’s alleged failure to investigate the report. The force has not yet revealed if it knew Couzens was the suspect at the time.
FLASHING 2 – Couzens was accused of flashing two members of staff at a McDonald’s in south London three days before he killed Miss Everard. The Met is being investigated by the IOPC for allegedly failing to probe these two separate incidents, despite apparently being provided with CCTV. It is unclear if the force knew Couzens was the suspect or simply failed to investigate reports of a flashing by a then-unnamed man.
PASSED VETTING FOR ELITE MET ARMED UNIT
The Met is also facing questions about how its vetting process failed to pick up concerns around Couzens before he was made an armed officer in its elite Diplomatic Protection Group, which involved him guarding embassies, VIPs and members of the Royal Family. There were numerous clues about Couzens’ bad character, including:
- Couzens’ colleagues believed he was ‘attracted to violent pornography’ and an ‘incident’ was reported in 2002, the Old Bailey heard yesterday;
- He was disturbingly nicknamed ‘The Rapist’ by colleagues in the Civil Nuclear Constabulary – where he was involved in protecting nuclear power stations – because of his inappropriate behaviour around women;
- He used prostitutes and had a fake Match.com dating profile despite being married with two children, his trial heard;
- In 2018, it has been claimed that he was reported to bosses for slapping a female police officer’s bottom at Bromley police station but it appears no action was taken, a source claimed;
- While at Bromley, it is also alleged he became the subject of gossip for only stopping female motorists – before taking their details so he could watch their homes – and parking outside schools to leer at mothers and sixth formers.
John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: ‘This predator is an absolute disgrace to the police service, and I am totally ashamed that he was ever a police officer.
‘I am proud to carry a warrant card, but this vile individual’s abuse of that authority has cast a shadow on all those who work within policing. He has brought disgrace to our uniform.
‘The way he took advantage of Sarah’s trust makes me feel sick to the stomach.
‘No sentence will ever ease the pain for the family and friends of Sarah or undo the terrible damage this disgusting man has done. He doesn’t deserve to have another single day of freedom and I hope every day he spends in prison is a long one.’
Couzens stopped Miss Everard on the street and used Covid laws as a ploy to ‘arrest’ the marketing executive and force her into his rental car before raping and strangling her to death in a sickening five-hour ordeal.
Footage taken from a passing dashcam shows the 33-year-old stood on a pavement on Poynders Road in Clapham as Couzens, who was wearing handcuffs on his police belt, speaks to her.
She was then driven for two hours to Dover where he forcibly moved her from the hire car into his own black Seat before continuing along remote back roads to Hoad’s Wood where he raped her, strangled her with his belt and stashed her body in a fridge.
Earlier that night, he spent two hours driving through central and south London – prowling Kensington, Lavender Hill and Earls Court for a lone young woman to abduct – before stalking Miss Everard and stopping next to her.
The twisted Met Protection Officer can be seen producing his warrant card as he claimed Miss Everard had breached Covid restrictions.
Couzens then cuffed her hands behind her back, leaving her incapable of undoing the seatbelt he strapped around her after ordering her into the back of his rental car.
As the depraved killer watched in the Old Bailey with his head bowed, Miss Everard’s family heard in horrific detail how Miss Everard spent her final hours before the serving Metropolitan Police officer raped and murdered her, and then burned her body in a pre-meditated attack that was weeks in the planning.
Her mother Susan told the Old Bailey: ‘Sarah died in horrendous circumstances. I am tormented at the thought of what she endured.
‘I play it out in my mind. I go through the terrible sequence of events. I wonder when she realized she was in mortal danger; I wonder what her murderer said to her. When he strangled her, for how long was she conscious, knowing she would die? It is torture to think of it. Sarah was handcuffed.’
Her father Jeremy added: ‘Sarah was handcuffed and unable to defend herself. This preys on my mind all the time.
It coincided with a string of increasingly sick behaviour which saw the married father-of-two flashing two women in McDonald’s across two separate incidents.
Witnesses later described how Miss Everard – who had spent the evening at a friend’s house sharing a bottle of wine – appeared ‘compliant’ with her ‘head down’ as the ‘confident-looking’ officer made what seemed to be a late-night arrest at the height of lockdown in March.
CCTV footage captured by a passing bus showed Miss Everard in the back seat of Couzens’ hire car after she was falsely ‘arrested’.
Couzens, who lied to his family about working a night shift that evening, then drove Miss Everard 80 miles to a remote stretch of road in his home county of Kent. Prosecutor Tom Little QC said: ‘She must have realised her fate.’
‘Sarah Everard was a wholly blameless victim of a grotesque series of offences – you have eroded trust in full’: Judge’s historic sentencing remarks on ‘warped’ killer Wayne Couzens in full
Mr Justice Fulford, who jailed Couzens for life with no parole today
A great deal has been said in court over the last two days, I emphasise wholly properly, about the devastating, tragic and wholly brutal circumstances of the death of Sarah Everard; additionally, many details as to her demise, along with abundant observations as to what it symbolises, have been publicized by reporters, commentators and many others. No doubt following the sentence that I am about to pass more will be said and written. Given the singular nature of this case, that is entirely unsurprising. But in and amongst the words and the voices, two things must not be forgotten during this sentencing exercise. First, the victim: who she was and what happened to her in early March. Her personal circumstances and the circumstances of her untimely death, coupled inevitably with the impact of what occurred on her family and those who were close to her, are a critical consideration. And, second, notwithstanding that vital factor, the sentence that I pass on the defendant must be just, in the all-important sense that the relevant statutory provisions are to be applied, along with the applicable case law and sentencing principles. To discharge my function faithfully, it is vital, therefore, that I focus solely on the factors that are properly relevant to determining the correct sentence, and nothing else.
The facts of this case, in all their painful detail, are essentially undisputed and they have been rehearsed most carefully and with great clarity by Mr Little Q.C., leading counsel for the Crown. It would serve no useful purpose for me to repeat at length what has already been said. Instead, I intend simply to highlight those aspects of what occurred that are in my view of particular relevance to the issue of sentence. First and foremost, Sarah Everard was a wholly blameless victim of a grotesquely executed series of offences that culminated in her death and the disposal of her body. She was 33 years of age and had been working in marketing since graduating from Durham University, and she was simply walking home mid-evening having visited a friend during the COVID pandemic. She was an intelligent, resourceful, talented and much-loved young woman, still in the early years of her life. I have not the slightest doubt that the defendant used his position as a police officer to coerce her on a wholly false pretext into the car he had hired for this purpose. It is most likely that he suggested to Sarah Everard that she had breached the restrictions on movement that were being enforced during that stage of the pandemic. Any explanation other than coercion fails to take into account her character and the evidence of the occupants of a passing vehicle who saw her being handcuffed. It is to be emphasised that the defendant was long used to exercising this kind of authority given he had previously been a member of the Kent Special Constabulary, moving to the Civil Nuclear Constabulary in 2011. He joined the Metropolitan Police in September 2018 and since February 2020 he had worked for the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, as an authorised Firearms Officer. He had participated in Covid patrols, to ensure that the regulations were enforced.
The evidence against the defendant, painstakingly compiled by the police, was essentially unanswerable. The compelling CCTV compilation, the product of 1800 hours of footage, along with the cell site evidence, revealed with absolute clarity the core essentials of what had occurred. By the time that exercise was complete, there was, in my view, no credible innocent explanation for the evidence gathered against him, and this is relevant to the issue of whether he has expressed genuine remorse or regret. Nonetheless, I need to stress that I have had regard to the defendant’s guilty plea to all the charges as one of the mitigating features to be taken fully into account, along with his age (48), his hitherto good character and the fact that he is the father of two children.
The defendant spent at least a month travelling to London to research how best to commit these crimes (as the wholly unexplained visits to the capital on 23 January, 5 February and 14 February). The degree of preparation and the length of time over which it extended is to be stressed. He bought part of the wherewithal to handcuff his victim (a police standard issue handcuff key was purchased from Amazon on 10 February and was found in the front of the Seat), self-adhesive carpet protector film was purchased on 28 February and delivered on 1 March and 14 hair bands were purchased in a shop on 3 March at 8 pm. The protector film had been used but its precise purpose is unknown. The hairbands were either for use in order to maintain an erection or as a means of restraint. This has not been disputed. He hired a car on 28 February which he drove to London on 3 March. He had parked the Seat motorcar in Dover in an area where there were no houses close by, with the result that it was less likely than otherwise would have been the case that there would be witnesses to what occurred, including any signs of distress or resistance by Sarah Everard when she was transferred from the hire car to the Seat. He used, therefore, the hire car, as opposed to his own vehicle, to kidnap Sarah Everard. He took some of his police kit with him to London, clearly in my view for use in this offending. He lied to his family about working a night shift on 3 March and although he was in London that night, he avoided visiting the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command base in Lillie Road. Instead, he covered extensive distances in the capital, beyond doubt, as suggested by Mr Little, hunting a lone young female to kidnap and rape. It follows from this that the defendant had planned well in advance, in all its unspeakably grim detail, what was to occur and when he encountered Sarah Everard all that was missing up to that point was his victim.
He stopped and handcuffed Sarah Everard on the roadside, and as I have already emphasised, he used his position as a police officer to enable this to happen. Her state of mind and what she had to endure over a journey of 80 miles and during the final hours of her life, would have been as bleak and agonising as it is possible to imagine. Ultimately,
she was raped and strangled to death. The defendant would have needed to apply pressure to Sarah Everard’s neck for more than two minutes in order to kill her. He took her to a remote area in the vicinity of the Sibertswold cell site, which was nonetheless close to roads which afforded easy access. It is unknown precisely where or when he raped Sarah Everard, although it was most likely to have occurred between midnight and quarter to one. He then drove around the Dover area. Although it is equally impossible to say precisely when or where she was killed, it is highly likely that Sarah Everard had been murdered before 2.34 am when he left the Seat and bought some soft drinks at the BP Dover South Services. The evidence tends to demonstrate that he used Velcro straps to restrain her, given the DNA analysis and where in the car they were found. His general movements in the early hours of the morning are known but precisely what he was doing at various stages, for instance when he travelled towards Ashford, is uncertain. At 8.14 am he bought a hot chocolate and Bakewell tart in Dover.
There can be no doubt as to the increasing sense of desperation on the part of Sarah Everard’s family, her boyfriend and her other friends as it became increasingly clear that something untoward had happened to her. Their lives will have been irredeemably blighted by the defendant’s crimes. Her parents and her sister Katie read their victim personal statements with great dignity. Along with the other statements which Mr Little summarised in court, they starkly and movingly revealed the true human consequences of this warped, selfish and brutal offending, which was both sexual and homicidal.
The defendant put considerable effort into trying to avoid detection, both before and after these offences. He took Sarah Everard’s mobile telephone from her and removed the Sim card. He later disposed of the handset, driving a considerable distance to Sandwich on 4 March, simply to throw it in the river before immediately returning home, arriving at a time which would coincide with him having been on a normal night shift. He acted at home and elsewhere entirely as normal, as evidenced by such prosaic details as booking dental appointments for his children. During the morning of 5 March, the defendant purchased petrol in a plastic container and burnt Sarah Everard’s body, along with her possessions and clothing, which had been placed in an abandoned refrigerator in Hoads Wood in Kent. At about the same time he again purchased food and drink for himself, and it was at about this juncture that he calmly organised an appointment by telephone at a local veterinary practice for the family dog (the entire contents of the telephone call were played during Mr Little’s opening). Later during 5 March, he moved Sarah Everard’s body to a pond that was close by in Hoads Wood, where she was eventually discovered, having used two bags purchased from B & Q in order to transport her remains. On Saturday 6 March, the defendant invented an excuse in an email to his supervisor to avoid further firearms duties and to remain away from work.
Within 3 days of the murder the defendant took his family on a trip to the woods, close by to where he had deposited, burnt, moved and hid the body of Sarah Everard, allowing his children to play in that area. In due course he cleaned the exterior of his Seat motorcar.
He lied when arrested, and initially ran an entirely false account in which he pretended that for two or three weeks he had been acting under the coercion of a gang from one of the Balkan countries who compelled him to abduct girls who he then handed over. He suggested he had delivered Sarah Everard, who was alive, to the gang. With apparent sincerity, the defendant gave the interviewing police officers a wholly false story in which he claimed he was a victim of threats which made him concerned for his family’s safety. His account on this issue was highly detailed and it was a complete fiction. CCTV checks rapidly demonstrated he had lied throughout his account to the police. He attempted to erase any records from his telephone by way of a factory reset shortly before the police arrived. He falsely claimed he would do anything he could to help to secure Sarah Everard’s release from the gang.
There are five principal issues that I need to resolve. First, was the defendant suffering from a mild depressive disorder at the time of these offences? Second, if so, what relevance is the diagnosis? Third, even though not relied on by the prosecution or the defence what is the significance, if any, of the account the defendant gave to the psychiatrist, Dr Latham? Fourth, did the defendant intend to kill Sarah Everard from the outset? Fifth, what are to be the terms of the life sentence that inevitably must be imposed?
In considering those questions, Mr Sturman QC on behalf of the defendant, for whose restrained and focussed submissions I am grateful, reminds the court that it is undisputed that the appellant had been suffering from a depressive illness, the symptoms of which he has not tried to exaggerate. Mr Sturman urges the court to conclude that the defendant did not depart for London intending to kill his victim and that this intention was formed later. It is suggested, furthermore, that he has done all he is able to demonstrate his contrition. As to question five, Mr Sturman submits that a whole life tariff is an unusual, indeed exceptional form of sentence, that needs to be carefully and unambiguously justified, in that a borderline case should always be met with a determinate term. The importance of the defendant’s guilty plea has been properly stressed. Mr Sturman emphasises the ease with which other accused might have advanced wholly false allegations as part of a defence, some of which might have involved slurs on the character and reputation of the deceased. All of that has been avoided by his acceptance of his guilt. He has no prior previous convictions and some of his colleagues have spoken supportively of him. It is particularly stressed that insofar as counsel’s extensive researches indicate, there has never been a whole life term which does not come within the categories set out expressly in the relevant provisions. In all the circumstances, whilst it is accepted that the tariff period will be in well in excess of 30 years, the court is urged not to impose a whole life order.
The first question is relatively easy to answer. Dr Latham not only spoke to the defendant but also to his wife, who described the defendant’s concerns over problems he was experiencing with his life, and particularly his financial difficulties. He suffered from lack of sleep and, on occasion, bad tinnitus. It seems likely that even though there is no documented history of depression or anxiety in Mr Couzen’s medical records, he may have suffered from episodes of mild depression. However, as Dr Latham has observed – and this goes to answer the second question – there is no link between the depression and these offences. At most, this diagnosis is simply part of the overall picture of the factors that contribute to an understanding of the kidnapping, rape and murder.
As to the third question, the significance of the account given by the defendant to Dr Latham, I accept this is not a verbatim account of what the defendant said, and it is only a summary for the purposes of the psychiatrist’s consideration of the defendant’s mental state. Nonetheless, it is revealing and wholly implausible. He suggested he merely rented a car because he had problems with his own vehicle. There is no evidence of this suggested difficulty with the Seat and this explanation cannot survive the sequence of events prior to the defendant’s departure for London and following his return with Sarah Everard, and particularly the manoeuvring of the vehicles. I have no doubt that the defendant wished to use a motor car that was credible as a police vehicle, given the Seat was extremely untidy and given its appearance it was wholly improbable that it would have been used by a police office on duty. Indeed, it was in such a poor state that it may well have alerted his victim that something was amiss with her purported arrest. He also is likely to have wanted to avoid his own car being identified as having been in the relevant area when he kidnapped his victim. The defendant described to Dr Latham having driven around in confusion, but this is entirely at odds with the precise and careful preparatory steps which he had taken for these offences, along with the lengths he went to in the hope of avoiding detection. These I have already described, and they included lying to his family and purchasing the items I have set out, along with the various steps he took following the killing. The vague state of mind that he suggested to Dr Latham is fatally contradicted his proven calculated behaviour over the entire period, including buying food and drink, organising vet and dental appointments, and coolly taking his family on an outing very close to where he had left Sarah Everard’s body. I emphasise that during the lengthy process of booking the appointment with the Vet, the defendant sound controlled and normal. This is relevant to the issue of whether the defendant has at any stage expressed any genuine contrition. Notwithstanding his guilty pleas for which he is entitled to the appropriate full credit as a mitigating factor, in my view the defendant has throughout sought to minimise his true responsibility for what occurred, something he had done from the moment he first spoke to the police and lied about the Balkan people- trafficking gang. At no stage has he offered any kind of full explanation as to what occurred.
As to the fourth question – did the defendant intend from the outset to murder Sarah Everard? – this is a difficult issue. On the one hand, it is almost inconceivable that the defendant did not realise that he would not be able to allow his victim to live, given he had posed as a police officer, a revelation which would have greatly narrowed the range of potential suspects. He had made no attempt, moreover, to disguise himself or to prevent Sarah Everard from seeing the registration numbers or the make and models of both motorcars. She would have been able to describe the locations to where she had been driven, having seen the town and street signs en route. His identification based on information from Sarah Everard was inevitable. On the other hand, he did not purchase the petrol until after the murder. I have concluded that given the planning and the thought that went into the kidnapping and rape of his victim, the defendant must have realised that he may well need to kill the woman he intended to abduct and rape, but this did not become a definite outcome until the events had started to unfold and he had got the measure, as it were, of the person he had attacked.
The fifth question is the most difficult. The prosecution submits that this case of murder (and the associated offences of kidnap and rape) is one of such exceptional seriousness that it justifies the imposition of a whole life order in accordance with paragraph 2 of Schedule 21 of the Sentencing Act 2020 because it was committed by a serving police constable when acting as if on duty, and there are particular aggravating features, to which I will turn in a moment.
By statute, cases that have a starting point of a whole life order are those when the seriousness of the offence (or the combination of the offence and one or more offences associated with it) is exceptionally high. Paragraph 2(2) of the Schedule provides a list of cases that would normally fall in this category, namely those, first, involving the murder of two or more persons, where each murder involves a substantial degree of premeditation or planning, the abduction of the victim, or sexual or sadistic conduct; second, the murder of a child if involving the abduction of the child or sexual or sadistic motivation; third, the murder of a police officer or prison officer in the course of his or her duty; fourth, a murder done for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause, or, fifth, a murder by an offender previously convicted of murder. It is clear from the language of the schedule that this is not a closed list of cases. The use of the words ‘cases that would normally fall’ into this category makes this clear.
The decisions of the Court of Appeal reveal that even when a mandatory life sentence is required, a whole life order is very rarely made. Such a sentence is reserved for the few exceptionally serious offences in which, after reflecting on all the features of aggravation and mitigation, the judge is satisfied that the element of just punishment and retribution requires the imposition of a whole life order. Nothing less will suffice.
The Schedule clearly has the objective of identifying the types or categories of cases which, as a matter of principle, are in themselves so serious that a whole life order ought to be the starting point. I anticipate that only very rarely will situations arise which merit this starting point but which were not included in paragraph 2(2). But the legislators would not have been able to describe every situation that might arise when an offender palpably needs to be treated in the same way as those expressly included in paragraph 2(2). I would stress, therefore, that I have adopted the approach that a judge should only pass a whole life term in a case such as the present if he or she is confronted with a new category of exceptionally serious case that plainly calls to be treated in this way and the decision is, therefore, not a borderline one. Otherwise, a lengthy minimum term will suffice.
The most important question in this sentencing exercise, therefore, revolves around a question of principle: if a police officer uses his office to kidnap, rape and murder a victim, is the seriousness of the offence exceptionally high, such that it ought to be treated in the same way as the other examples set out in paragraph 2(2). In my judgment the police are in a unique position, which is essentially different from any other public servants. They have powers of coercion and control that are in an exceptional category. In this country it is expected that the police will act in the public interest; indeed, the authority of the police is to a truly significant extent dependent on the public’s consent, and the power of officers to detain, arrest and otherwise control important aspects of our lives is only effective because of the critical trust that we repose in the constabulary, that they will act lawfully and in the best interests of society. If that is undermined, one of the enduring safeguards of law and order in this country is inevitably jeopardised. In my judgment, 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 carried out for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause. All of these situations attack different aspects of the fundamental underpinnings of our democratic way of life. It is this vital factor which in my view makes the seriousness of this case exceptionally high. Self-evidently, it would need for the police officer to have used his role as a constable in a critical way to facilitate the commission of the offence; if his professional occupation was of little or no relevance to the offending, then these considerations clearly would not apply.
Added to this, the aggravating features in the case are extensive. As I have already rehearsed, there was significant planning and premeditation; the victim was abducted; there was the most serious sexual conduct; the defendant was responsible for significant mental and physical suffering which he inflicted on the victim before her death; and the defendant concealed and attempted to destroy Sarah Everard’s body. There is no doubt but that these three offences are inextricably linked and in considering the correct sentence for murder I have taken into account the kidnapping and the rape, in order to pass a single sentence.
I have borne in mind the fact that the defendant pleaded guilty in deciding whether it is appropriate to make a whole life order. This has saved the Everard family and Sarah Everard’s friends from enduring a trial. That said, having determined, as I have, that there should be a whole life order, given the misuse of the defendant’s role as a police officer and the serious aggravating features, self-evidently there can be no reduction for the defendant’s guilty pleas.
Will the defendant please stand.
Wayne Couzens, you kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard, having long planned a violent sexual assault on a yet-to-be-selected victim who you intended to coerce into your custody. You have irretrievably damaged the lives of Sarah Everard’s family and friends, in the ways to which I have, at least in part, referred. Mrs Everard devastatingly referred to how the wider world has now lost its appeal for her and, I would add, no doubt for many others who cared for your victim, and Sarah Everard’s sister referred to the inescapable reality of the many lives you have ruined. You have eroded the confidence that the public are entitled to have in the police forces of England and Wales. It is critical that every subject in this country can trust police officers when they encounter them and submit to their authority, which they are entitled to believe is being exercised in good faith. You have utterly betrayed your family. Your wife and children, who on all the evidence, are entirely blameless will have to live with the ignominy of your dreadful crimes for the rest of their lives. You have very considerably added to the sense of insecurity that many have living in our cities, perhaps particularly women, when travelling by themselves and especially at night. During the period before your arrest, there was never a moment when you gave the slightest indication of regret, following perhaps the realisation of the enormity of the dreadful crimes you had committed. Instead, you simultaneously attended to the inconsequential details of family life whilst grimly covering your tracks, with all the appearance of a man acting with quiet and unconcerned determination. The substantial CCTV footage and similar material does not give the slightest hint of someone in trauma, who has started to have second thoughts in the cold light of day about what they have done. Notwithstanding your guilty pleas, therefore, I have seen no evidence of genuine contrition on your part as opposed to evident self-pity and attempts by you to avoid or minimise the proper consequences of what you have done.
Those consequences are that on the count of murder you will be imprisoned for life and the tariff is a whole life order. I have taken into account the offences of kidnapping and rape in reaching that decision and on those counts I impose no separate penalty.
Take him down.
There are three tributes which I wish to pay. First, I have received the most exceptional assistance from counsel and solicitors on both sides. This has been a case of real legal and tactical difficulty, and the cooperation of the legal profession has been second to none. Mr Little and Mr Sturman particularly have my thanks, along with their juniors.
Second, this has been the most impressive police investigation that I have encountered in the 30 years I have been sitting as a part-time and full-time judge. The speed with which the evidence leading to the arrest of the defendant was secured is highly notable, as has been the painstaking reconstruction of these events using electronic material along with more old-fashioned methods of policing. It cannot be suggested in my view that the Metropolitan Police, even for a moment, attempted to close ranks to protect one of their own. Instead, remorselessly, efficiently and impartially the investigating officers followed all the available leads, resulting in an overwhelming case against the accused. Meriting particular mention are Detective Chief Inspector Catherine Goodwin, Detective Kim Martin and Acting Detective Inspector Lee Tullett. Mr Tullett has been a key figure in the investigation and the preparation of this case, going well beyond what could properly be expected of any police officer, and his role deserves high commendation.
Third, ensuring that this hearing ran smoothly has been no small feat given the number of people to be accommodated in court and via CVP, along with the lingering logistical difficulties posed by the COVID pandemic. The staff at this court have ensured that everything has gone exactly to plan, and I want to acknowledge the incredible hard work and careful thought that has enabled the procedures over last two days to appear so deceptively effortless.
CCTV footage of Miss Everard captured earlier on the night she was kidnapped in March, sparking a nationwide hunt
Quizzed by police, Couzens (pictured in handcuffs) lied that he had been ‘leant on’ by an Eastern European gang who threatened to harm his family if he did not agree to pick up a woman
The deranged Met Protection Officer, who was wearing his police belt containing handcuffs, can be seen producing his warrant card as he claimed Miss Everard had breached Covid restrictions
Miss Everard’s devastated family listened from the public gallery as the Old Bailey heard harrowing details of how Couzens took her to a rural area and raped her, before later being seen buying Lucozade and other drinks from BP station with her body in boot, after she was believed to have been murdered.
Couzens, 48, prepared for the abduction by buying a rental car and a sheet of film from Amazon
Distressing details of the timeline suggest Miss Everard could have been alive for more than four hours in the back of Couzens’ car. She was snatched off the street by 9.30pm and when the killer pulled into the garage at 2.30am, Sarah is thought to have been in his boot, already dead.
The court heard he confessed to a psychiatrist that he had strangled Miss Everard with his belt, and the prosecution said her injuries were consistent with ones that would have been caused by his police belt.
Couzens – who had prepared for the abduction by buying a rental car and a sheet of film from Amazon – hid her body inside a fridge in a patch of rubbish-strewn woodland before torching it.
Footage released by police showed the moment Couzens rented the car he would go on to use to prowl the streets of London for almost two hours before picking up Miss Everard.
The CCTV clip showed Couzens calmly laughing with a female attendant. He joked ‘you’ve put me on the spot’ while trying to remember his phone number as she took his details.
He went on to visit a Tesco store in west London to buy a pack of 14 hairbands just an hour before Miss Everard was abducted on March 3, before making further trips to a B&Q two days after Miss Everard is believed to have been killed. He also visited a Homebase in Folkestone on the morning of Monday, March 8.
CCTV footage showed the moment he went on to visit a BP garage in Dover on Friday, March 5 to buy and fill a petrol canister – believed to have been used to burn Miss Everard’s body.
Just days after the murder, the father-of-two took his wife and children on a family trip and allowed the youngsters to play near a pond where he had dumped Miss Everard’s remains, the prosecution said.
CCTV footage (pictured) captured by a passing bus showed Miss Everard in the back seat of Couzens’ hire car after she was falsely ‘arrested’
Couzens sat in the drivers’ seat of the hire car after buckling up Miss Everard’s seatbelt in the back
Quizzed by police, he lied that he had been ‘leant on’ by an Eastern European gang who threatened to harm his family if he did not agree to pick up a woman and hand her over to the occupants of a van near Maidstone.
Taken to Wandsworth Police Station, he repeatedly tried to self-harm by banging his head on a sink and running into a wall, and was put under constant watch before appearing in court.
Yesterday, Miss Everard’s family and friends gave victim impact statements to the Old Bailey.
The Old Bailey heard horrific details of the serving police officer’s deceit and Sarah’s final hours before she was raped, murdered and burned in a pre-meditated attack that was weeks in the planning:
- Prosecution say five words summarise what PC Wayne Couzens did to Sarah Everard: ‘Deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation, fire’;
- Friends in Deal said Couzens was regularly seen wearing his police belt with handcuffs and pepper spray, when not on duty, and he lied that he was an undercover police officer;
- In December 2020 he joined Match.com and said he had no wife and children. He also signed up to an escort agency;
- In January 2021, Couzens worked on COVID patrols and ‘used this knowledge’ to kidnap his victim, who he stopped after doing laps of west and south-west London on the night of March 3, 2021;
- On February 10 he bought a ‘police standard issue handcuff key with double locking pin’ from Amazon, which he used on his police-issue cuffs to detain Sarah Everard and force her into his hire car;
- On February 28, Couzens booked a hire car online from Enterprise and ordered a 100m roll of carpet protector film from Amazon, used to line the boot where he eventually kept Sarah’s body;
- He had told his wife that he was working a night shift when he grabbed Sarah – in fact he was off duty and cruising the streets looking for a victim;
- A couple driving past witnessed the kidnapping. Couzens using his warrant card and handcuffs to make a false arrest. They believed she had ‘done something wrong’ so didn’t intervene;
- A former boyfriend said Sarah was ‘extremely intelligent, savvy and streetwise’ and would never get into a stranger’s vehicle ‘unless by force or by manipulation’, which is exactly what Couzens did;
- Sarah was driven 80 miles to the Kent coast, where she was raped and murdered after a five-hour ordeal;
- In 2019 Wayne Couzens bought plot of woodland in Hoads Wood near Ashford. He bragged it was ‘perfect for day trips’ – but it’s where he burned Sarah’s body and dumped it in bags in shallow water;
- Couzens took his family on a trip to the woods where he burned Miss Everard’s body – allowing his children to play near where it was dumped;
- Phoned vet to arrange for an appointment to see his dog and handed in his Met Police firearms licence;
- Lied about being forced to ‘pick up a girl’ by an Eastern European gang who threatened his family;
- Admits to killing her with his belt – with prosecution saying injuries were consistent with his police belt;
- Couzens repeatedly self-harmed in his cell, as police divers found Miss Everard’s phone in the River Stour;
- Miss Everard’s father demanded killer ‘look me in the face’, mother said she was ‘haunted’ by murder and sister called Couzens ‘a monster’;
- Court also heard how Couzens was ‘attracted to brutal sexual pornography’
EXCLUSIVE: Killer cop ‘must have’ struck BEFORE: Criminologists suggest Wayne Couzens showed ‘experienced behaviour’ by snatching Sarah Everard off street then torching body – and police ‘must be looking into his links to other crimes’
Wayne Couzens should be considered over unsolved murders and crimes, experts urged today as they said ‘everything suggested he had done this before’.
The killer rapist, 48, who staged a fake arrest to trap Sarah Everard in the back of his car was this morning sentenced to a whole life order for his crimes.
But experts say the confidence in which he carried out the abduction shows he had done it before.
And the way he disposed of Miss Everard’s body by burning her remains signalled ‘experienced behaviour’.
Criminologist Professor David Wilson told MailOnline: ‘I am absolutely convinced he is being looked at for other things.
‘Everything revealed yesterday suggests Couzens has behaved in this way before.
‘It suggests to me this wasn’t his first offence. Nobody moves into this type of behaviour overnight – they are a long time in the making.
‘Nothing would surprise me about Wayne Couzens and Wayne Couzens’ previous offending.
‘I would treat him in the same category as John Worboys – because of the circumstances of him using his occupation to target lone women.
‘He was engaged in a lot of planning. One of the riskiest things was he drove her 80 miles with a handcuffed woman in the back of his car.
‘The fact he did suggests he thought he was safe and that must come from the fact he has done something similar in the past.
Wayne Couzens, 48, was today given a whole life sentence for kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard. He will die in jail.
This is the moment Couzens staged his fake arrest to lure Sarah Everard into being handcuffed and put in the back of his car
The two vehicle’s used in killer cop’s horrific crime: How Wayne Couzens used a rental Vauxhall Crossland and his own Seat family vehicle to commit his horrific crime. First, prowling central London for a lone woman before parking up in Clapham and confronting Sarah Everard. He used his police ID and Covid laws as an excuse to stage her false arrest, handcuffing her and placing her in the back seat of the rental car. Later, following an 80-mile journey out of London, Couzens transfered Ms Everard to his own black Seat, which he had parked up on a remote stretch of road in Dover.
This fridge was used by Couzens to burn Miss Everard’s clothing and body just yards from his own plot of land
‘What was unusual – and suggests his experience – was his disposal of the body.
‘Burning someone’s remains is a good way to get rid of it. All of that suggests this is experienced behaviour.’
Depraved Couzens used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant card and handcuffs to snatch Miss Everard as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.
Couzens, a firearms officer, had clocked off from a 12-hour shift at the American embassy that morning but in the time leading up to the kidnap had cruised the capital looking for a victim.
He posed as an undercover officer to stage the fake arrest before driving to a secluded rural area near Dover in Kent, where he parked up and raped Miss Everard.
Prof Wilson added: ‘The detail that were released were all about behaviour and they were practiced and controlled.
‘They were quite obviously related to his sexual fantasies. In my experience nobody makes their sexual fantasies a reality overnight.
‘The fake arrest may well be a signifier in his behaviour. He is quite clearly interested in uniform, sadism and masochism, control and handcuffs.
‘His nickname was apparently “the rapist” at work, he had obviously other complaints of indecent exposures to women previous to Sarah’s murder.
‘We have to take these indecent exposures as a very serious indicator of abhorrent sexual behaviour.
‘He is 48 years old, this is not a 25-year-old who is at the beginning of his offending career.
‘This is somebody who is mature who has had a lot of life experience and that is an indicator his past life needs looking into.’
Criminal psychologist Dr David Holmes agreed police should appeal for any more potential victims of Couzens.
He told MailOnline: ‘This is unlikely to be his first offence, he has just not been caught before. I think some kind of public appeal would be a good idea.
‘This kind of behaviour does not suddenly emerge. The cold, calm way he did it would say this is something that was part of his repertoire.
‘It may be his first killing but I would have thought he had toyed around with this and possibly have a long litany of encounters where he has used his ability to have power over others.
‘This pretty unlikely to be the first time he has done something of this nature.’
Heartbreaking timeline of the murder that shocked Britain: How killer policeman abused Covid powers to snare Sarah Everard… before trying to cover up his monstrous crime
Wayne Couzens had served as a special constable for Kent Police, before moving to the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and eventually joining Scotland Yard as a firearms officer in September 2018 – during which time he had been trusted to protect MPs and diplomats, and guarding key buildings including the US Embassy.
Colleagues regarded the married father of two as a ‘family man’, but in truth he was a porn-obsessed predator who is thought to have blown cash on escorts, and had begged for a pay rise after amassing debts of almost £30,000.
He spent lockdown trawling dating sites, falsely claiming to be a single man with no children, while at least one colleague reported knowing he was ‘attracted to violent sexual pornography’ as far back as 2002.
Couzens had joined colleagues on uniformed patrols enforcing lockdown in January. This appears to have inspired his sickening plot.
While on duty on February 28, he booked a £65.30 hire car from Enterprise Rent-a-Car in Dover, which he collected on March 3 (pictured), having decided his own was too old and filthy to be passed off as a police vehicle
At 5.52pm Sarah Everard is seen as she leaves her home in Craster Road, Brixton, for an evening out
While on her journey for her night out, Sarah stops off at a Sainsbury’s store on Brixton Hill at 6pm and is seen talking on the phone as she enters the shop
Security cameras inside the Sainsbury’s store saw Sarah use a self-checkout aisle to purchase a bottle of wine in preparation for her evening
Just three minutes after having entered the Sainsbury’s store on Brixton Hill, Sarah is seen leaving again to visit a friend in Clapham Junction
Miss Everard, described by a former partner as ‘savvy and streetwise’, was on her way home at 9.15pm, having had dinner with a friend in Clapham. Pictured: Sarah is seen as she leaves her friend’s house and starts walking home to Brixton
She is said to have been in ‘good spirits’ as she chatted to her boyfriend on the phone while walking briskly along the well-lit A205, which was busy with traffic. The call ended at 9.28pm. It would be the last time anyone heard from her. Pictured: Sarah walks east down Cavendish Road towards her home after concluding her call with her boyfriend
Just four minutes after Sarah was seen walking down Cavendish Road towards her home, Couzens’ hire car, was spotted travelling east, and passing the same camera
Couzens (right) pulled over, on the pretence of arresting Miss Everard (left) for breaching lockdown rules. Dashcam footage from cars and buses travelling past captured him flashing his warrant card before reaching for his handcuffs
A bus CCTV camera captures Sarah in the back seat of Couzens’ car. At the precise moment Couzens abducted Miss Everard – on March 3 – his wife Elena sent a message to his mother: ‘Wayne had a call for overtime shift tonight. I [was] wondering if you could pick children from school tomorrow, would you?’
Buying a hot chocolate and Bakewell tart at a Costa Coffee – wearing the very same clothes as he had the night before. Just over an hour later, he would dispose of Miss Everard’s phone in a flood relief channel in Sandwich – but a fragment was later found in his car
On March 5, Couzens bought a can of petrol (pictured) and another McDonald’s meal before heading back to Hoad’s Wood, where he had purchased a plot of land – described as ‘perfect for day trips’ – in 2019, and where he had left his murdered victim’s body more than 24 hours ago
At 12.45pm on March 5, a local sees a large fire by a fridge. This was used by Couzens to burn Miss Everard’s clothing and body just yards from his own plot of land. He brought his wife and children to the woodland two days later
Couzens is seen strolling into B&Q – having already bought items from Amazon, including a police-issue handcuff key and a roll of self-adhesive plastic carpet-protecting film, to prepare for his crime over several weeks
Couzens buying building sacks from B&Q for £9.94. He then returns to the woods to dump Miss Everard’s remains in a pond
Hoad’s Wood, where Couzens returned with wife and children on the morning of Sunday March 7, stopping for cash at Dover South Services. He had also stopped there hours after murdering Miss Everard. Astonishingly, Couzens allowed his children to play close to where he had hidden his victim as her disappearance dominated the news
A day later, on March 8, he was due to attend a training day but called in sick. He then drove to the Met’s diplomatic protection team base, where he stowed the kit he used to kidnap Miss Everard
In handcuffs, the moment the killer is confronted by police at his home with a picture of his victim
This is the moment police confronted Wayne Couzens with a picture of Sarah Everard at his home.
The murderer was caught and handcuffed after his hire car was traced to his address.
Detectives arrived at his house in Deal, Kent, at 5.45pm on Tuesday, March 9, six days after he snatched his victim.
This is the moment police confronted Wayne Couzens with a picture of Sarah Everard at his home
Detectives arrived at his house in Deal, Kent, at 5.45pm on Tuesday, March 9, six days after he snatched his victim
But they didn’t move in for two hours, allowing Couzens – who may have spotted the plain-clothed officers – to wipe his phone at 7.11pm.
They finally moved in at 7.45pm and arrested him when his children were getting ready for bed. At first he claimed he knew nothing about Miss Everard, then spun a sickening web of lies about being forced to kidnap her for an Eastern European gang.
Claiming he was in ‘in financial s***’ after trying to ‘rip off a call girl’, he said gangsters had warned they would harm his family unless he snatched a girl.
He said the gang threatened him when he was with another prostitute and had been following him, turning up outside his home.
The murderer was caught and handcuffed after his hire car was traced to his address
Couzens claimed he handed over Miss Everard alive at a roundabout by Charing Racecourse in Kent and suggested officers go to Folkestone and Maidstone Services to find the gang.
When asked where she was, he said: ‘If I could do something to get her back right this minute, I would.’ But he then added: ‘I’ll do it again tomorrow if it meant saving my family.’
A day later police discovered Miss Everard’s body.
Even as his story unravelled, the cowardly killer clung to his lies and has still refused to tell police the truth about what he did, to the enduring agony of his victim’s family.
Fake arrest ‘for breaking lockdown rules’ used to kidnap Miss Everard as she walked home from a friend’s house
Wayne Couzens accused Sarah Everard of breaking lockdown rules to make a ‘fake arrest’.
The policeman used his handcuffs and warrant card to snatch Miss Everard as she walked home from visiting a friend in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.
The sexual predator, who had clocked off from a 12-hour shift that morning, went on to rape and strangle the 33-year-old marketing executive before setting fire to her body.
A week after she disappeared, Miss Everard’s remains were found in a woodland stream in Ashford, Kent, just yards from land owned by Couzens.
Couzens’ car is seen driving along Cavendish Road at 9.32pm, just minutes before he pulled over and stopped Miss Everard
Miss Everard was taken out of the hire car and forced into Couzens’ own car (pictured) in a switch made at 11.30pm on North Military Road in Dover, Kent
CCTV taken at 5.52pm on March 3 showed Miss Everard walking along Craster Road in Brixton, south London
CCTV footage showed Couzens raising his left arm holding a warrant card before handcuffing Miss Everard and putting her into the hire car.
A passenger in a passing car witnessed the kidnapping but mistook it for an arrest by an undercover officer, the court heard.
A woman on the pavement appeared to have her left arm behind her back and was in the process of ‘giving her other arm behind her back’ as a man in dark clothing handcuffed her, according to the witness.
Mr Little said: ‘The immediate impression the passenger formed was that she was witnessing an undercover police officer arresting a woman, whom she assumed ‘must have done something wrong’.
‘They were in fact witnessing the kidnapping of Sarah Everard. She was detained by fraud. The defendant using his warrant card and handcuffs as well as his other police issue equipment to affect a false arrest.’
Below is a summary of Couzens’ murder hearing in the order it was heard in court:
Victim of ‘deception, rape, strangulation and fire’
Sarah Everard was the victim of ‘deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation, fire’, the Old Bailey heard at the start of her murderer’s sentencing.
Wayne Couzens was a serving PC with the Metropolitan Police when he snatched Miss Everard as she walked home in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.
The sexual predator, who had clocked off from a 12-hour shift that morning, went on to rape and strangle the 33-year-old marketing executive.
A week after she disappeared, Miss Everard’s body was found in a woodland stream in Ashford, Kent, just metres from land owned by Couzens.
Prosecutor Tom Little QC said: ‘The defendant’s plot of land is very close to, and in the same woods, that he was to burn Sarah Everard’s body after he had murdered her.
‘He then moved her body in green bags that he had purchased specifically for that task to a pond deeper into the woods but which was only about 130 metres from his plot.’
Opening the facts, Mr Little said the disappearance of Miss Everard was one of the most widely publicised missing person investigations the country has ever seen.
After her body was discovered in woodland, it became summarised by the hashtag ‘she was just walking home’, he said.
But that did not completely describe what happened to Miss Everard, the court heard.
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.’
Miss Everard: ‘Extremely intelligent, savvy and streetwise’
Miss Everard was described by a former long-term boyfriend as ‘extremely intelligent, savvy and streetwise’ and ‘not a gullible person’, the Old Bailey heard.
He said he could not envisage her getting into a car with someone she did not know ‘unless by force or manipulation’, according to Mr Little.
He said Couzens worked on Covid patrols in late January this year, enforcing coronavirus regulations, so would have known what language to use to those who may have breached them.
Couzens was said to be wearing his police belt with handcuffs and a rectangular black pouch, similar to a pepper spray holder, when he kidnapped Miss Everard.
Mr Little said he snatched Miss Everard in a ‘false arrest’, by ‘handcuffing her and showing his warrant card’.
The prosecutor said he must have taken her mobile phone from her and removed the sim card, which he tried to destroy.
Ahead of the start of the two-day hearing, Scotland Yard released a statement which read: ‘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.’
Miss Everard queued at Sainsbury’s with a bottle of red wine as she headed to see a friend for dinner after work
Just hours before she was abducted and murdered Miss Everard was enjoying a normal Wednesday evening
Miss Everard walked from her home to see a friend via a Sainsbury’s in Brixton Hill, south London
Sarah Everard’s boyfriend Josh Lowth arrives for the sentencing of her killer, policeman Wayne Couzens at the Old Bailey this morning
Couzens (left, in his uniform with his police belt circled); and right, in a court sketch) kidnapped, raped and murdered Miss Everard in depraved crime after he had finished his shift
Susan Everard (right), Miss Everard’s mother, reading a victim impact statement as Couzens sits in the dock
Ms Everard’s father Jeremy ordered Couzens to look at him as he pointed at him and told him ‘I can never forgive you’
Police search woodland near to where Miss Everard’s body was found. Couzens burned her body and dumped it in a pond
Miss Everard’s disappearance sparked a huge manhunt and led to an outpouring of anger about the safety of women on the streets
‘I can never hold her again’: Sarah’s mother Susan says she now hugs daughter’s dressing gown
Susan Everard, mother of Sarah Everard
Sarah Everard, 14th June 1987 to March 2021
Susan Everard, Sarah’s mother
‘Sarah is gone and I am broken hearted. She was my precious little girl, our youngest child. The feeling of loss is so great it is visceral. And with the sorrow come waves of panic at not being able to see her again. I can never talk to her, never hold her again, and never more be a part of her life. We have kept her dressing gown – it still smells of her and I hug that instead of her.
‘Sarah died in horrendous circumstances. I am tormented at the thought of what she endured. I play it out in my mind. I go through the terrible sequence of events. I wonder when she realized she was in mortal danger; I wonder what her murderer said to her. When he strangled her, for how long was she conscious, knowing she would die? It is torture to think of it. Sarah was handcuffed, unable to defend herself and there was no one to rescue her. She spent her last hours on this earth with the very worst of humanity. She lost her life because Wayne Couzens wanted to satisfy his perverted desires. It is a ridiculous reason, it is nonsensical; how could he value a human life so cheaply? I cannot comprehend it. I am incandescent with rage at the thought of it. He treated my daughter as if she was nothing and disposed of her as if she was rubbish.
‘If Sarah had died because of an illness, she would have been cared for. We could have looked after her and been with her. If she had died because of an accident, people would have tried to help – there would have been kindness. But there is no comfort to be had, there is no consoling thought in the way Sarah died. In her last hours she was faced with brutality and terror, alone with someone intent on doing her harm. The thought of it is unbearable. I am haunted by the horror of it.
‘When Sarah went missing we suffered days of agony, not knowing where she was or what had happened to her. Then, when Sarah’s burnt remains were found, we spent two terrible days waiting for tests to show how she had died, fearing she had been set alight before she was dead – the thought was appalling.
‘Burning her body was the final insult, it meant we could never again see her sweet face and never say goodbye.
‘Our lives will never be the same. We should be a family of five, but now we are four. Her death leaves a yawning chasm in our lives that cannot be filled. I yearn for her. I remember all the lovely things about her: she was caring, she was funny. She was clever, but she was good at practical things too. She was a beautiful dancer. She was a wonderful daughter. She was always there to listen, to advise, or simply to share with the minutiae of the day. And she was also a strongly principled young woman who knew right from wrong and who lived by those values. She was a good person. She had purpose to her life.
‘My outlook on life has changed since Sarah died: I am more cautious; I worry more about our other children. I crave the familiarity and security of home; the wider world has lost its appeal. It is too painful to contemplate a future without Sarah, so I just live in the here and now. I think of Sarah all the time, but the mornings and evenings are particularly painful. In the morning I wake up to the awful reality that Sarah is gone. In the evenings, at the time she was abducted, I let out a silent scream: Don’t get in the car, Sarah. Don’t believe him. Run!
‘I am repulsed by the thought of Wayne Couzens and what he did to Sarah. I am outraged that he masqueraded as a policeman in order to get what he wanted. Sarah wanted to get married and have children, now all that has gone. He took her life and stole her future and we will never have the joy of sharing that future with her. Each day dawns and I think, Sarah should be here, leading her life and embracing new experiences. She had so many years ahead of her.
‘I don’t know how anyone could be so cruel as to take my daughter’s life. What I do know is that Sarah will never be forgotten and is remembered with boundless love.
‘I cling on to memories of Sarah, I hold them tight to keep them safe. The other night, I dreamt that Sarah appeared at home. In my dream I held her and could feel her physically. Jeremy was there, we were comforting her, saying ‘it’s alright Sarah, it’s alright’. I would give anything to hold her once more; I hope I dream that dream again.’
Killer was in debt for £29,000, rowed with the Met over pay, had a fake Match.com profile, and used escorts
Couzens was in debt to the tune of £29,000 at the time of the killing, the Old Bailey heard.
Mr Little said: ‘In relation to finances at the material time his bank accounts were generally overdrawn only being brought into credit for short periods either by wages paid in and/or the use of short term payday loans.
‘He had a total debt of just under £29,000 with a number of financial institutions, which were the subject of a debt management plan agreed in Oct 2020 with a debt management company, Payplan, with agreed monthly repayments of £235.
‘As at March 2021, the defendant also had a credit card account with NatWest which was in debt (£3460.70); and a PayPal credit card account which was also in debt (£1580.27); both of which had debt payment plans in place to make minimum monthly payments.’
Couzens was involved in a dispute with the Met over his pay,’ Mr Little said, adding: ‘He talked freely to colleagues about this, and the fact that he was hoping to obtain legal assistance in the near future. He had not discussed any other financial problems with colleagues.
‘Most of his colleagues had the impression that he was a ”family man’.’
The court also heard how Couzens had been paying for sex with escorts and had a Match.com profile under a fake name.
Mr Little said: ‘In early February 2021, the defendant was in contact with an escort with username ”escourtbabygirl” through the Adult Work Escort Service.’
Lord Justice Fulford asked the Crown if they were planning on bringing up evidence he had seen in written submissions that colleagues said Couzens was partial to ‘brutal sexual pornography’.
Mr Little said it had been deliberately omitted. Couzens’ lawyer Jim Sturman QC, said it was from 2002 and was irrelevant.
Couzens bought a rubbish-strewn plot of woodland where he burned Sarah’s body
The Old Bailey heard that Couzens and his wife had bought a plot of woodland by Ashford, Kent.
Mr Little said: ‘The defendant’s plot of land is very close to, and in the same woods, that he was to burn Sarah Everard’s body after he had murdered her.
‘He then moved her body in green bags that he had purchased specifically for that task to a pond deeper into the woods but which was only about 130 metres from his plot,’ said Mr Little.
PC worked on ‘Covid patrols’ and ‘knew the language used to tackle offenders’
In January this year Couzens was working in ‘Covid patrols’ and was aware of coronavirus regulations and the language used on those who may have breached them, the Old Bailey heard.
Mr Little said that he had ‘arrested’ and handcuffed Miss Everard for a breach before raping and murdering her.
He continued: ‘These were uniform Covid patrols in which the Covid regulations were enforced. The defendant undertook a couple of such shifts.
‘He was therefore aware of the regulations and what language to use to those who may or may not have breached them, if speaking to them. He was to use that knowledge to kidnap Sarah Everard.’
Policeman carried handcuffs with him while not on duty
Members of the public had noticed Couzens wearing his police belt when not on duty, with a pair of handcuffs and black pepper spray holder.
‘This is the type of equipment that it can be inferred that the defendant was wearing when he kidnapped Sarah Everard,’ said Mr Little.
He continued: ‘It was not unusual for officers on PaDP to take personal protective and other equipment (including body armour and handcuffs) home with them from the Lillie Road base – they were required to undertake frequent training, at a number of different locations, to which they would travel directly.
‘For convenience, they would often take home the kit needed.
‘Two members of the public had independently noticed seeing the defendant when he was not on duty wearing his Police belt with handcuffs and a rectangular black pouch (similar to a pepper spray holder) attached to it (whilst out in Deal walking his dog; and when attending a local computer hardware repair shop in the town).
‘This is the type of equipment that it can be inferred that the defendant was wearing when he kidnapped Sarah Everard.
‘It is instructive that in relation to the incident in the repair shop that when the owner asked the defendant jokingly if he was ‘into kinky stuff’ when he referred to the handcuffs that were visible on the defendant’s belt. The defendant said ‘I am an undercover police officer’.
‘As he said that the defendant chuckled but then opened his jacket a little more to reveal his Police issue kit.’
March 5: The case is escalated and the Specialist Crime Unit becomes involved. Couzens, who is due to be off until March 8, reports to work that he is suffering with stress. At 2pm he buys two green rubble bags for £9.94 at B&Q in Dover (pictured)
Murderer’s final shift before the murder – guarding the American Embassy
Couzens worked his last shift from 7pm on March 2 to 7am the next day. It was a posting at the American Embassy.
Mr Little said: ‘That evening the defendant discussed the possibility of leaving the Metropolitan Police because of the pay dispute and depending on the outcome he might go off sick with stress.
‘This was meant to be the start of his period of five rest days, from Wednesday Mar 3 at 7am to Mar 8 at 7am, when he was due to return to Lillie Road for a training day.’
The next day he had a sick day but lied to his family, saying he was working another night shift.
At this point his wife sent a message to his mother saying: ‘Wayne had a call for overtime shift tonight. I wondering if you could pick children from school tomorrow, would you?’.
CCTV footage showed the moment he went on to visit a BP garage in Dover on Friday, March 5 to buy and fill a petrol canister – believed to have been used to burn Miss Everard’s body
Couzens entered a petrol station in Dover to buy a cannister he would go on to fill with petrol
Couzens’ journey to ‘hunt a lone young female to kidnap and rape’
After his final shift, Couzens drove back to his home in Kent in his own car, a Seat.
After leaving home, he picked up a Vauxhall Crossland hire car that he had booked on February 28.
‘Take off your mask and look at me: Sarah’s father Jeremy says the murder is ‘in my mind all the time’
Jeremy Everard, father of Sarah Everard
Sarah Everard, 14th June 1987 to March 2021
Sarah’s father Jeremy Everard
‘The impact of what you have done will never end. The horrendous murder of my daughter, Sarah, is in my mind all the time and will be for the rest of my life.
‘A father wants to look after his children and fix everything and you have deliberately and with pre- meditation stopped my ability to do that.
‘Sarah was handcuffed and unable to defend herself. This preys on my mind all the time. I can never forgive you for what you have done, for taking Sarah away from us.
‘You burnt our daughter’s body – you further tortured us – so that we could not see her again. We did not know whether you had burnt her alive or dead. You stopped us seeing Sarah for one last time and stopped me from giving my daughter one last kiss goodbye.
‘Her body fell apart when she was moved. Her brain and neck bones were removed for months by the pathologist and her body was difficult to preserve so we had to use the services of a specialist embalmer to enable a dignified burial.
‘All my family want is Sarah back with us. No punishment that you receive will ever compare to the pain and torture that you have inflicted on us.
‘You murdered our daughter and forever broke the hearts of her mother, father, brother, sister, family and her friends.
‘Sarah had so much to look forward to and because of YOU this is now gone forever. She was saving to buy a house and looking forward to marriage and children. We were looking forward to having grandchildren. We loved being a part of Sarah’s world and expected her to have a full and happy life. The closest we can get to her now is to visit her grave every day.’
Around this time, he had ordered a 100m roll of carpet protector film from Amazon, used to line the boot where he eventually kept Miss Everard’s body
Describing his appearance, Mr Little said: ‘The defendant was wearing a black puffa-style jacket with a Barbour logo on the breast pocket, a dark blue hooded jumper with a yellow lining in the hood, a dark baseball cap with a white Polo logo on the front, light-grey trousers and black and white trainers.’
During his journey back to London, Couzens was captured on CCTV purchasing a pack of 14 hair bands at a Tesco in Kensington, which was a ‘significant’ purchase and part of his plans.
He proceeded to drive the car around Earls Court and other parts of central and south London, crossing the river twice.
‘We say circular route taken by the defendant as well as the areas in which he was driving are consistent with the defendant looking for, indeed hunting for a lone young female to kidnap and rape, which is precisely what he did,’ Mr Little said.
Miss Everard’s movements on the night she was abducted and the final phone call to her boyfriend
Miss Everard had worked the day of March 3 at home, and planned to go to a friend’s house near Clapham Junction to have dinner.
CCTV footage showed the moment she bought a bottle of red wine from a Sainsbury’s on Brixton Hill at 6.30pm before making her way to see her friend.
After leaving her friend’s house around 9pm, Miss Everard made a 14-minute call to her boyfriend, sounding ‘in good spirits’ and ‘not intoxicated.’
They made plans to meet later that week and ended the conversation normally, with Miss Everard intending to walk home through south London, something she did routinely.
‘That call that the last that her family, friends and colleagues heard from her,’ said the prosecutor.
After failing to text a friend she was home safe and missing a work meeting the following day, Miss Everard’s loved ones frantically attempted to find her and her boyfriend reported her missing.
‘Her boyfriend went round to her flat but got no answer,’ Mr Little said. ‘He started to make enquiries with the hospitals and emergency services, and reported Sarah as missing to the police.
‘He also made enquiries with other friends and family, but nobody had heard from her all day.’
Missed chance to stop horror as couple witness kidnapping – but are reassured he was an undercover police officer
The kidnap happened on Poynders Road (A205), with Couzens travelling in the same direction as Miss Everard.
In chilling CCTV footage, Couzens is seen driving behind Miss Everard before stepping out of the car and standing a few feet apart from her.
‘We can see the left hand of the defendant come towards Sarah Everard as though he was showing her something, we say the warrant card, and afterwards he must have handcuffed her,’ said Mr Little.
A couple driving past the scene saw Couzens in the process of handcuffing Miss Everard, before leading her towards the hire vehicle.
‘The immediate impression the passenger formed was that she was witnessing an undercover police officer arresting a woman, whom she assumed ‘must have done something wrong’,’ said Mr Little
‘They were witnessing the kidnapping of Sarah Everard.
The CCTV clip showed Couzens calmly laughing with a female attendant. He joked ‘you’ve put me on the spot’ while trying to remember his phone number as she took his details
Footage released by police showed the moment Couzens rented the car he would go on to use to prowl the streets of London for almost two hours before picking up Miss Everard
After his final shift, Couzens drove back to his home in Kent in his own car, a Seat (left). After leaving home, he picked up a Vauxhall Crossland hire car (right) that he had booked on February 28
A family handout of Miss Everard that was released through the Crown Prosecution Service this afternoon
‘She was detained by fraud. The defendant using his warrant card and handcuffs as well as his other police issue equipment to effect a false arrest.
‘Having handcuffed her to the rear she would not have been able to undo the seatbelt that the defendant must have placed over her.
‘That was the start of her lengthy ordeal including an 80 mile journey whilst detained which was to lead first to her rape and then her murder.
‘At some point fairly soon after driving from the pavement onto the South Circular and having not gone to a police station for example, Sarah Everard must have realised her fate.’
A number of areas were searched in Clapham as police tried to look for missing Sarah before the hunt moved to Kent
‘I hate that I wasn’t there to save her’, says Sarah Everard’s sister Katie
Katie Everard, sister of Sarah Everard
Victim personal statement
Katie Everard, sister of Sarah
‘You treated Sarah as if she was nothing. Placed more emphasis on satisfying your sick disgusting perversions than on a life. Her life. You disposed of my sister’s body like it was rubbish. Fly-tipped her like she meant nothing. She meant everything. We couldn’t even see her, she was so badly burnt. Her brain was removed from her skull to check for trauma and cause of death – I still don’t know if they put her brain back in her head or whether it is lying next to her body in her coffin.
‘Shards of her kneecap were returned to us to be placed with her body – shards that you knocked when moving her burnt body from the fridge you had used to hide her and conceal the fire. We are still missing her hyoid bone from her throat, which is being checked to see the force you used to strangle her, to determine how long she may have survived. We know it was broken. Her burnt body still had her necklace and one earring in her ear – the other had fallen from her ear because it had burnt off.
‘You hear from the police that it takes around 2 minutes to strangle someone. And around 8- 10 seconds for them to lose consciousness. At first there is a sense of relief at hearing that your sister might only have been aware of what was happening for 8-10 seconds. But have you put your hands around your neck and tried pushing hard? 8-10 seconds now seems a long time.
‘You used your warrant card to trick my sister into your car. She sat in a car handcuffed for hours. What could she have thought she had done wrong? What lies did you tell her? When did she realise that she wasn’t going to survive the night?
‘I’m constantly replaying in my head – did you rape her, then kill her? Did you kill her while raping her? You get small nuggets of information and the thought process starts again. Your semen and blood were found in your car. So this suggests you raped her in the car. You find out you may have used a belt to strangle her. New horrendous images forming.
‘You stopped to get a Lucozade and water at a petrol station. Was she still alive at this point? Bound in your car? I am horrified by your ability to flit between what you did and normal everyday actions. Your casual demeanour on CCTV was very upsetting and shocking to see.
‘We had to go to the flat and pack up Sarah’s whole life – washing left hanging up, half sewn outfits, deliveries waiting to be returned, packages waiting at the door ready to be opened. All signs of a life waiting to be lived – chores to be done, ready for her to return and continue when she got home. But she never got home because a predator – you – was on the loose. Prowling the streets for hours looking for his prey.
‘You can’t comprehend what you are being told when it happened because it is so horrific. Some sort of sick waking nightmare. You can’t imagine anyone could do such a thing.
‘You are waiting to hear anything from the police. Every bit you get is different. You hear her body has been found. Then you find out she has been burnt. So badly burnt you can’t see her. Can’t see her again to say goodbye. The first thought you have in your head after despair and shock is – was she dead before you burnt her? Imagine that even having to be a thought. You find out no soot was found in her lungs which suggests she was burnt after you murdered her. Imagine being relieved to hear your sister was dead before she was burnt.
‘I replay it continuously round in my head. What you may have said to her, what she may have said back, when she realised she was in grave danger and was not going to survive. Hoping my sister was unconscious and drugged, but we know that was not the case – no drugs found in her body, no trauma to the head. Burst blood vessels in her brain from your strangulation. Which meant she was conscious when you were doing these unfathomable things to her. My only hope is that she was in a state of shock and that she wasn’t aware of the disgusting things being done to her by a monster. When you forced yourself upon and raped her. When you put your hands around her neck and strangled her.
‘It disgusts me that you were the last person to touch her perfect body and violate her in the way you did. The last person to see her alive and speak to her. How scared she must have been. The last moments of her life not with loved ones, but frightened and fighting for her life. I hate to think of her being so scared and alone and that in her last moments she had no one with her. No kindness. I hate that I wasn’t there to save her. To stop you. I find it hard to believe she is not just living her own life and sick at the thought that her last moments on this earth alive were so horrific.
‘How dare you take her from me? Take away her hopes and dreams. Her life. Children that will never be born. Generations that will never exist. Her future no longer exists. The future I was supposed to live with my sister no longer exists. You have ruined so many lives.
‘Sarah is the very best person with so many people who love and cherish her. I want to speak to her and hug her and hear her laugh and go out for dinners and drinks and dancing. All those conversations we can never have. There were so many things I wanted to share with her – trips abroad, being each other’s bridesmaid, meeting her babies and being an
‘Aunty, growing old together and seeing who got the most wrinkles. We weren’t even halfway through our journey and you took it all away!
‘I feel like I live in a make-believe world. As if nothing is real. I have to pretend because the thought of not having Sarah forever is too hard to bear. A lifetime now seems a very long time.
‘I should never have to write a eulogy for or bury my little sister. There is no punishment that you could receive that will ever compare to the pain you have caused us. We can never get Sarah back. The last moments of Sarah’s life play on my mind constantly. I am so disgusted and appalled. It terrifies me that you have such disregard for a person’s life. You have taken from me the most precious person. And I can never get her back.’
Kidnapping took ‘just five minutes’ – as harrowing video shows Miss Everard in the back of Couzens’ car
The court heard Miss Everard’s kidnapping took less than five minutes.
Harrowing CCTV footage from a private car then showed the marketing executive in the back of Couzens car.
‘A nearside rear-facing camera shows a figure in the rear passenger seat (behind the driver),’ Mr Little said.
‘This was plainly Sarah Everard. A figure was also sitting in the driver’s seat. This was the defendant.’
Miss Everard was handcuffed at about 9.34pm, detained in Couzens’ hire car by 9.37pm and they were on their way to Kent a minute later, Mr Little said.
Couzens switches cars into car and takes Miss Everard to a rural area to rape her
The court was shown CCTV of the defendant’s hire vehicle in Dover shortly after 11.30pm as he transferred his victim to his own car, a Seat.
Couzens then drove to a remote rural area north-west of Dover which he knew well where he parked up and raped Miss Everard.
Between 1.03am and 2.43am, Couzens returned to central Dover with Miss Everard still in his Seat.
Mr Little said the CPS ‘simply can’t say whether it was approximate to the rape or in the hour or two after that’ that Miss Everard was murdered.
With victim’s body in the boot, Couzens buys a Lucozade, hot chocolate and a Bakewell tart
The court heard the prosecution could not pinpoint the exact time Miss Everard was killed.
However, Mr Little said that she must have been dead by around 2.30am when Couzens pulled into a BP service station in Dover to buy a Lucozade, apple juice, two bottles of still water and a carrier bag.
He visited Hoads Wood near Ashford twice during in the early morning, leaving just before sunrise.
The court heard he was to return to the area later the following day two more times.
At 8.15am on March 4, Couzens was captured on CCTV in a Costa Coffee shop in Dover buying a hot chocolate and bakewell tart.
He went on to return the Vauxhall hire car having driven just over 300 miles.
Couzens throws Miss Everard’s phone into the sea before returning home
Later that morning (March 4), Couzens threw Miss Everard’s mobile phone into a channel at Sandwich, only for it to be retrieved by a diver as part of a search of the waterway.
After disposing of the phone he returned home, where he stayed all day.
During the day a local dental surgery phoned to cancel an appointment for his two children. He was calm and accepting of this on the phone, Mr Little said.
At around 12.45pm, a local man was driving past Hoads Wood in Ashford where he saw a ‘strong, intense flame’ around three-foot square.
‘This is consistent with the location where the defendant burnt Miss Everard’s body, clothing and possessions using the petrol he had purchased earlier that day,’ Mr Little said.
Killer phones vet to speak about his dog before dumping Miss Everard’s body
Having burnt Miss Everard’s body, clothing and possessions inside a refrigerator, Couzens went on to call the vet about his dog.
In the call played in court, Couzens explained that his pet had ‘separation anxiety’.
He then bought builders bags at a B&Q in Dover before returning to the woods.
Mr Little said: ‘Whilst in the woods he must have moved Sarah Everard’s heavily burnt body from where he had set fire to it, to the pond where she was subsequently found.
‘He did so using the two bags that he had just purchased from B&Q.’
Couzens takes family on a trip to the woods where he burned Miss Everard’s body – allowing his children to play near where it was dumped
The court heard that on Sunday March 7, Couzens took his wife and two children on a family trip to the woods where only days before he had burned Miss Everard’s body.
En route, he withdrew cash from the same service station he had been to shortly after raping and murdering his victim.
Mr Little said: ‘It follows that the defendant took his family on a family trip to the very woods where days earlier he had left Sarah Everard’s body, then returned to burn it and then returned again to move it and hide it.’
Couzens allowed his children to play in ‘relatively close proximity to where Miss Everard’s body had been dumped in the pond’, he added.
While on his five days’ leave, Couzens had emailed his supervisor to say he felt ‘unable to carry firearms’.
The court heard this read: ‘Sgt, at this moment in time I feel unable to carry firearms. The stress of my payroll situation is causing me financial implications, I feel totally mislead and disillusioned by the way I have been recruited and the lack of measures to find a solution from HR.
‘I have been totally honest from the outset all through my application to present. I have provisionally made an appointment with my GP to seek advice. I thought I was in a good place after returning from injury however, this is not the case and I feel more of a liability due to the current situation I find myself in. I will keep you updated throughout.’
The following day – March 9 – Couzens went to Homebase to return a flat-pack trolley. A member of staff did not notice ‘anything untoward about his demeanour’ during a 10-minute exchange, Mr Little said.
On March 4 Couzens threw Miss Everard’s mobile phone into a channel at Sandwich, only for it to be retrieved by a diver as part of a search of the waterway. Pictured, Couzens’ car was parked at Guildhall Car Park for ten minutes
Couzens’ car is pictured arriving at New Street in Sandwich at 9.32am on March 4
Miss Everard’s family leave the Old Bailey after a previous hearing where Couzens made two guilty pleas. Her father Jeremy is seen on the left, with her sister Katie can be seen on the right.
Couzens’ lies about being forced to ‘pick up a girl’ by an Eastern European gang who threatened his family
Dramatic police bodycam footage has revealed how Wayne Couzens tried to spin pathetic lies after police raided his Kent home over the murder of Sarah Everard.
The 48-year-old officer could be seen in a seven-minute video clip handcuffed on his sofa being interviewed by arresting officers in his front room in Deal on March 9.
Couzens initially claimed to the detectives that he did not know Miss Everard, but moments later concocted a ridiculous fantasy story involving an Eastern European gang who had pressured him after he attempted to ‘rip off’ one of their call girls.
Appearing reasonably relaxed, Couzens told police that he had got into ‘financial s***’ and had been ‘lent on by, I don’t know who they are, an immigrant gang, whatever, and they told me I need to go and pick up girls and give them to them’.
The fictitious traffickers supposedly threatened to harm his family if he did not provide them with a victim, and he felt he had ‘no choice’ but to snatch Miss Everard.
However, at the start of the video, Couzens suggests he has never met Miss Everard, who was the subject of a major missing persons enquiry at the time.
Couzens is shown a picture of Miss Everard on a mobile phone and is asked: ‘Do you know Sarah’, but he replies: ‘I don’t, no.’
Asked if he knew where she is, he says: ‘No’. And asked if he knows anything about what happened to her, Couzens then says: ‘I know that she went missing up in London somewhere about a week ago or so just from what I got on the news.’
While speaking, his cat is seen walking through the room and jumping onto a shelf. Asked if he had personally met her, Miss Everard says: ‘No, not personally, no.’
Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens is shown a photograph of Sarah Everard on a phone by a detective while being questioned by police at his home in Deal, Kent, in March
He is then asked if he had had any ‘personal interactions with her’, but says: ‘Why would I have personal interactions with her?’
The detective says that he can’t go into all the evidence, but Couzens replies: ‘I’m sat in handcuffs… so you must have something to say that I know her.’
Pressed by the detective, Couzens tells him: ‘I am in financial s*** and I’ve been lent on by, I don’t know who they are, an immigrant gang, whatever, and they told me I need to go and pick up girls and give them to them.
‘So I said I’ll happily… and it then came through that they are going to harm my family, take them away, use them instead. At that point I had no option to try and find somebody.’
He continues: ‘There was a couple of names, I was told a place to take her, that’s it, that is all I know.’
The detective asks him to tell him about the gang. Couzens says: ‘OK, there was a white Sprinter van. They are between sort of Lenham, Maidstone area that I dropped her off.
‘I still don’t know, they just, I don’t know, I just parked my car up and then the van come up behind me, flashed me, then they all jumped out and then they [inaudible] this girl.
‘They said ‘you done good’ and I don’t know whether my family’s going to be alright still. They threatened to take my family away from me, so, at that point, I’m doing what I can to protect my family – that’s it.
‘So all I know it was, roundabout, we could drive there now, I could show you, roughly, I don’t know, Lenham, Maidstone area at all.’
The detective suggests showing him the route on Google Maps, and Couzens says: ‘I drove from Ashford to Maidstone. There’s a roundabout that breaks up, the first big roundabout you come to.
‘You carry straight over to Maidstone, but instead I went round that roundabout and back up another road and at that point I was flashed and pulled over.
‘Three guys got out, opened my door, opened that door and pushed me out against the front of the car, took the girl, drove off, that’s it. They said: ‘We’ll be in touch.’
‘So I’m here, I’m off work with stress because I’m here to protect my family. I want to be here 24/7 for my family. They come for my family… I’ve got nothing… I’ve got no choice.’
The detective says he will go back over the route with Couzens, but asks him how the supposed gang contacted him or he contacted them.
Couzens says: ‘I tried to f*** over on one of their call girls and tried to rip her off, so she’s told them and they’ve got me. They just tell me be here, be here, so Hotel Burstin in Folkestone, be here.
‘So I turned up. But I’ve got no mobile number, and they have [sic] got my mobile number – they’re obviously outside watching, following… I just, honestly.
‘They’ll come outside, so they’ll be outside here, then they’ll say right, you’ll be in Folkestone this time, or you’re going to be in Ashford this time. That’s it.
‘There’s no links, telephone numbers, I’m completely on my own, but at the same time being threatened. It had Romanian plates on the van, white Mercedes Sprinter-type van.’
When pressed as to where Sarah Everard was, he said repeatedly that he did not know where she was and that ‘if I could do something to get her back right this minute, I would’, but at the same time he said ‘I’ll do it again tomorrow if it meant saving my family… these guys meant business.’
He claimed he had evidence of that communication in his mobile phone, but when officers examined it they found it had been wiped clean by Couzens.
At the police station, Couzens declined to provide samples of his DNA, saying it was on advice from his solicitor.
And when asked how he had sustained ‘visible scratch marks to his head’ he blamed them on his dog.
There was a huge search for Sarah Everard after she went missing after visiting a friend before her remains were found in Kent
Police pick holes in Couzens’ account, before finding petrol, hairbands and latex gloves at his home
An investigation found the killer was lying, with no vehicles like the one he described as belonging to the fake gangsters being seen on CCTV.
He was taken to Wandsworth Police Station, where he refused to provide intimate samples, the court heard.
A large number of significant items were then found at his home, prosecutor Mr Little said. These included:
- A roll of adhesive film that had been ordered on February, inside a cardboard box on the floor in a bedroom;
- Beige-coloured hairbands and a penis pump from a storage unit in the bedroom;
- Police kit bag containing a ballistic vest and other items. The contents included a leather handcuff pouch, two police shoulder numbers and one Civil Nuclear Constabulary uniform badges;
- A green petrol can, identical in appearance to that purchased by Couzens on the morning of March 4;
- Two opened boxes of off-white large latex gloves, from the workshop and garage respectively;
- A pair of Quick Plasti Cuffs and pouch, found in the garage.
Couzens left the Tesco Superstore in Kensington, west London, after buying a pack of 14 hairbands at 8pm on March 3
A large number of significant items were then found at his home, prosecutor Mr Little said. These included the beige hairbands he was seen buying in Tesco (pictured)
Miss Everard’s badly burned body is found dumped in a pond – as Couzens tells police he strangled her ‘with his police belt’
On March 10, a police search dog team scoured Hoads Wood.
Mr Little described the moment Miss Everard’s body was found partially submerged in a pond inside builders bags.
He said: ‘Several dogs picked up some scent and drew the attention of their handlers to a small pond.
‘Initially only the handles of a green builder’s bag were visible above the surface of the water.
‘Two of the dogs entered the water and indicated interest in the bag. As one of the dogs moved away, the bag appeared to come loose from the floor of the pond, floating upwards and opening up…
‘One of the officers reported that he could see what appeared to be a body in the bag.’
Miss Everard had been badly burned and was still wearing a necklace and gold-coloured ear-ring.
Couzens told a psychiatrist he strangled Miss Everard with his police belt, which tallied with the conclusions of a post-mortem examination which found she died from compression of the neck.
Two days’ later, a burnt fridge was found in the woods. Evidence suggested Miss Everard’s body was inside before being burned.
Miss Everard’s death sparked an outpouring of grief, outrage and a series of protests at the rate of violence against women
Miss Everard’s blood is found in Couzens’ car – as killer self-harms in custody
Blood matching that of Miss Everard was found in the front passenger seat, rear seats and boot of Couzens’ Seat. There was also evidence that she had been raped.
On March 10, the killer told a custody nurse that he ‘experiences anxiety and depression’.
After being re-arrested for Miss Everard’s murder, he deliberately hit his head on the toilet bowl in his cell, sustained a cut to his head, and was taken to St George’s Hospital.
He told a nurse he was experiencing ‘suicidal thoughts’.
When asked how he was feeling in a police interview, he said: ‘I’m in a dark place’.
When the interview resumed, he answered ‘no comment’ to all questions asked.
On Friday March 12, Couzens self-harmed again by intentionally running into the wall of his cell head first.
He then banged his head against a wall while waiting for an ambulance.
Couzens was charged with the murder and kidnap of Sarah Everard on the evening of March 12.
Mr Little QC told the court: ‘He remained quiet with a lowered gaze, but answered questions politely when prompted.
‘He was placed under constant watch until he first appeared in the Magistrates’ court the following morning.’
Victim’s phone is recovered by a diving team
On Thursday March 18, a police diving team found a mobile phone in the River Stour, which runs alongside Fellowship Walk in Sandwich.
The handset was forensically examined, and identified as Miss Everard’s silver Apple iPhone.
The handset did not contain a SIM card.
Police released this mugshot of murderer police officer Couzens after he admitted the horrific crime earlier this year
Everard’s mother Susan says she is ‘haunted’ by the horror of her daughter’s murder
Reading a statement at the Old Bailey, Susan Everard said: ‘Sarah died in horrendous circumstances. I am tormented at the thought of what she endured.
‘Sarah was handcuffed, unable to defend herself, and there was no one to rescue her. She spent the last hours on this earth with the very worst of humanity.
‘She lost her life because Wayne Couzens wanted to satisfy his perverted desires. It is a ridiculous reason. It is nonsensical. How could he value a human life so cheaply?
‘I am incandescent with rage at the thought of it. He treated my daughter as if she was nothing and disposed of her as if she was rubbish.’
Mrs Everard said she was ‘repulsed’ by the thought of what Couzens did.
She added: ‘I am outraged that he masqueraded as a policeman in order to get what he wanted.’
Father demands Couzens looks him straight in the eye
Jeremy Everard demanded that her daughter’s killer look at him as he delivered an emotional victim impact statement in court.
He told Couzens: ‘I can never forgive you for what you have done, for taking Sarah away from us.
‘You burnt our daughter’s body – you further tortured us – so that we could not see her again.’
Couzens appeared to shake in the dock as Mr Everard went on: ‘You murdered our daughter and forever broke the hearts of her mother, father, brother, sister, family and her friends.
‘Sarah had so much to look forward to and because of you this has now gone forever.’
Ms Everard’s sister Katie Everard describes Couzens as a ‘monster’
Weeping as she read her statement, Katie Everard said: ‘You used your warrant card to trick my sister into your car. She sat in a car handcuffed for hours.
‘What could she have thought she had done wrong? What lies did you tell her? When did she realise that she wasn’t going to survive the night?
‘My only hope is that she was in a state of shock and that she wasn’t aware of the disgusting things being done to her by a monster. When you forced yourself upon her and raped her.’
Shopping in Tesco and B&Q for his kidnap, rape and kill kit: Footage shows Wayne Couzens buy rubble bags, hairbands and a jerry can he used in sickening murder of Sarah Everard
- Wayne Couzens, 48, is seen buying hairbands at a Tesco in Kensington, March 3
- Two days later, following Sarah Everard’s death, he is seen buying petrol canister
- Three hours later, CCTV shows him buying two green rubble bags for £9.94
- Ms Everard’s mother said that her daughter had been ‘disposed of as if she was rubbish’, adding that ‘burning her body was the final insult’
Wayne Couzens, 48, used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant card and handcuffs to snatch Ms 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 raped Ms Everard.
In disturbing footage, released by the Met Police , Couzens is seen on March 3, the night of Ms Everard’s disappearance, at a Tesco Superstore in Kensington, west London, at 8pm.
He buys a pack of 14 hair bands, which were said to be a ‘significant’ purchase and part of his plans.
Couzens had strangled marketing executive Ms Everard, who lived in Brixton, south London, with his police belt at or before 2.30am the following morning.
On March 5, at 11.05am, Couzens is seen buying a petrol canister and filling it up at a BP forecourt in Whitfield, Dover.
Three hours later, CCTV shows him wearing a pale blue face mask while shopping at a B&Q hardware shop in Dover, where he buys two green rubble bags for £9.94.
Pictured: A canister used by Wayne Couzens in the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard
Pictured: Items recovered from the car used by Wayne Couzens in the murder of Sarah Everard
Pictured: Part of the equipment used by Wayne Couzens in the killing of Sarah Everard
Pictured: Wayne Couzens’ equipment recovered from his police locker
Among exhibits the police used to catch Couzens was a roll of plastic floor protector tape
Pictured: Handcuffs recovered from Wayne Couzens’ work locker following the murder of Sarah Everard
Couzens bought a pack of 14 hair bands, which were said to be a ‘significant’ purchase and part of his plans
A key recovered from the car used by Wayne Couzens, who killed Sarah Everard
Ms Everard’s mother Susan said at the Old Bailey that Couzens ‘treated my daughter as if she was nothing and disposed of her as if she was rubbish’.
She added: ‘When Sarah’s burnt remains were found, we spent two terrible days waiting for tests to show how she had died, fearing she had been set alight before she was dead – the thought was appalling.
‘Burning her body was the final insult, it meant we could never again see her sweet face and never say goodbye.’
On March 6 Couzens ordered a tarpaulin and a bungee cargo net on Amazon, which were shipped to him on March 7.
He then calls in sick on March 8, when he was due to return to work.
On March 9 his phone is wiped of all data at 7.11pm, less than an hour before he is arrested at his home in Deal, Kent, at 7.50pm.
The next day, Ms Everard’s body was discovered in a wooded area of Ashford, Kent, around 100 metres from land owned by Couzens.
Pictured: Equipment recovered from Wayne Couzens’ work locker following Ms Everard’s death
Lubricating jelly recovered from the car used by Wayne Couzens, who killed Sarah Everard
Three hours later, CCTV shows him wearing a pale blue face mask while shopping at a B&Q hardware shop in Dover, where he buys two green rubble bags for £9.94
On March 5, at 11.05am, Couzens is seen buying a petrol canister and filling it up at a BP forecourt in Whitfield, Dover
Miss Everard’s disappearance sparked a huge manhunt and led to an outpouring of anger about the safety of women on the streets
Wayne Couzens (left, in his uniform with his police belt circled; and right, in a court sketch) kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard in depraved crimes after he had finished his shift
In disturbing footage, released by the Met Police, Couzens is seen on March 3, the night of Ms Everard’s disappearance, at a Tesco Superstore in Kensington, west London, at 8pm
She was later formally identified by dental records.
On Wednesday, Ms Everard’s parents and sister condemned her killer as he sat quaking in the dock with his head bowed at the start of his sentencing at the Old Bailey.
Her father Jeremy Everard demanded the killer look at him as he said: ‘I can never forgive you for what you have done, for taking Sarah away from us.’
Susan Everard said she was ‘incandescent with rage’ at what he had done, saying he disposed of her daughter ‘as if she was rubbish’.
She added: ‘I am outraged that he masqueraded as a policeman in order to get what he wanted.’
Sister Katie Everard wept as she said: ‘My only hope is that she was in a state of shock and that she wasn’t aware of the disgusting things being done to her by a monster. When you forced yourself upon her and raped her.’
Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick also attended court to hear how one of her own officers had abused his position and used his warrant card to kidnap Ms Everard ‘by fraud’ before detaining her ‘by force’.
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.
Opening the facts of the case, he said Ms Everard’s disappearance was one of the most widely publicised missing person investigations the country has ever seen.
After her body was discovered a week later, it became summarised on social media by the hashtag ‘she was just walking home’, which did not completely describe what had happened, he 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,’ said Mr Little.
The court heard Ms Everard was described by a former long-term boyfriend as ‘extremely intelligent, savvy and streetwise’ and ‘not a gullible person’.
He said he could not envisage her getting into a car with someone she did not know ‘unless by force or manipulation’, said the prosecutor.
Couzens had worked on uniformed Covid patrols in late January to enforce coronavirus regulations, so would have known what language to use to those who may have breached them, he continued.
He is thought to have been wearing his police belt with handcuffs and a rectangular black pouch, similar to a pepper spray holder, when he kidnapped Ms Everard as she walked home.
‘The fact she had been to a friend’s house for dinner at the height of the early 2021 lockdown made her more vulnerable to and more likely to submit to an accusation that she had acted in breach of the Covid regulations in some way,’ said Mr Little.
The court heard how Couzens had booked a hire car before going out ‘hunting’ for a lone young female to kidnap and rape.
Chilling CCTV footage played in court showed Couzens raising his left arm, holding a warrant card, before handcuffing Ms Everard and putting her into the back of the car.
A passing couple witnessed the kidnapping but mistook it for an arrest by an undercover officer, the court heard.
Mr Little said: ‘She was detained by fraud. The defendant using his warrant card and handcuffs as well as his other police issue equipment to effect a false arrest.’
Couzens worked for the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command after joining the Met in 2018, having transferred from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary.
He was sacked by the force after entering guilty pleas.
Scotland Yard said in a statement ahead of the sentencing hearing: ‘We are sickened, angered and devastated by this man’s crimes which betray everything we stand for.’
Lord Justice Fulford adjourned the case until Thursday when he will hand down his sentence.