Former Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens has been handed a whole life sentence by a London court for the murder of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive. A whole life sentence means Couzens will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Everard had gone missing on the evening of March 3, 2021, while on her way back home from a friend’s home near Clapham Common in South London. Couzens had kidnapped her under the guise of making an arrest. He then raped and strangled her to death. Couzens was arrested in Kent on March 9, and on March 10, Everard’s remains were found in a woodland near Ashford in Kent.
During the sentencing, Lord Justice Fulford at the Old Bailey, London, reported called the murder “devastating, tragic and wholly brutal”. As per the sentencing remarks released by authorities, the court said, “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,” and that, “She was an intelligent, resourceful, talented and much-loved young woman, still in the early years of her life.”
Holding Couzens accountable for his actions the jusdge observed, “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.”
The evidence against Couzens also included 1800 hours of CCTV footage that the police had used to track his every move. Couzens had invested a lot of effort into researching how best to commit the crime, including making several trips to the site of the crime, purchasing various items used in the crime online and lying to his family about being on a night shift on the evening that he kidnapped Everard.
It was the shocking impunity with which Couzens used his authority as a policeman that drew sharp criticism for the entire police force. However, that did not stop them from manhandling women protesters who were holding a vigil for Everard on March 13 at Clapham Common.
After Couzens was sentenced to life in prison, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick addressed the press and said, “Sarah’s kidnap, rape and murder was one of the most dreadful events in the 190-year history of the Metropolitan Police Service. This hearing has revealed the full brutality of this man’s crimes against Sarah. I’m absolutely horrified that this man used his position of trust to deceive and coerce Sarah, and I know you all are too.” She further said, “His actions were a gross betrayal of everything policing stands for. What he did was unthinkable and appalling.”
*Feature image courtesy Metropolitan Police.