Wayne Couzens has been sentenced to life-in-prison, a rare sentencing in the UK, for his kidnapping, raping and murdering of Sarah Everard in March. Couzens, who was a serving Metropolitan police officer, abused his powers as a police officer in his horrific violence against Everard.
The presiding judge, Lord Justice Fulford, said the severity of the sentence was because Couzens used his position as a police officer to abduct Everard under false pretenses. Couzens had shown his police warrant, and used his handcuffs, to coerce her into his vehicle.
The judge said that the seriousness of the case was so “exceptionally high” that a whole-life sentence was deserved, meaning Couzens will die in jail. He said his crimes should be branded as serious as a terrorist atrocity. Fulford said that not only was the crime appalling and included prolonged suffering for the victim, it also undermined and eroded public trust in police, stoked fear in women, and damaged the wider society.
The sentencing stretched over two days. Previously unknown details of the crimes were released during the sentencing trial.
The judge said Couzens had spent a month researching how best to commit his crimes, and purchased items ahead of time showing significant planning and premeditation. On the night of his crimes, Couzens spent hours circling the streets of London to choose a woman who was walking alone, according to the prosecution.
Couzens had falsely arrested Everard, 33, for breaking Covid restrictions while she was walking home in south London at the height of lockdown in March 2021. He then kidnapped her into a car he had hired for this purpose. He drove her four hours to Kent, where he moved Everard to his own car, and then continued driving to a remote wooded area nearby where he owned woodland in Ashford.
This is where he raped and murdered Everard, strangling her with his police belt. He disposed of her body, and then returned the next day to burn her body inside a fridge, and dump the remains in a pond. Her body was found in a woodland stream a week after she disappeared.
Couzens plead guilty several weeks ago to kidnapping and rape, and then later plead guilty to murder. The judge over the sentencing trial said that while he pleaded guilty, he showed “no genuine contrition.”
The first day of the sentencing also included devastating statements from Everard’s mother, father and sister. Her mother, Susan, said she was tormented at the thought of what her daughter had gone through.
“Burning her body was the final insult. It meant we could never again see her sweet face and never say goodbye,” Susan Everard said.
Reacting to the sentencing on Thursday, Everard’s family said that while they were pleased with the lifetime term, “nothing can make things better, nothing can bring Sarah back.”