Wayne Couzens has received a full life sentence for the brutal murder, kidnap and rape of 33-year-old Sarah Everard.
The former Metropolitan police officer was handed his life sentence at London’s Old Bailey this morning, six months after Sarah’s murder. Couzens was deemed to have abused his power as a then-serving police officer to kidnap the 33-year-old marketing executive as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham on 3rd March. It was later discovered that Sarah had been kidnapped and murdered and it was soon reported that a police officer had been arrested and charged with the crime.
Following her murder, floral tributes were placed at the Clapham Bandstand and vigils were held across the UK. Whilst Kate Middleton also paid tribute to Sarah and visited Clapham Common.
As reported by the BBC, before sentencing Couzens’ today, the judge, Lord Justice Fulford, described the case of Sarah’s abduction, rape and murder as “devastating, tragic and wholly brutal”.
He went on to add that Sarah “was a wholly blameless victim of a grotesquely executed series of offences that culminated in her death and the disposal of her body.”
When Couzens was handed his life sentence after previously pleading guilty, he kept his head down. His past as a serving police officer was something that influenced Lord Justice Fulford’s ultimate decision that Couzens should be jailed for life.
The judge is said to have declared, “The misuse of a police officer’s role such as occurred in this case in order to kidnap, rape and murder a lone victim is of equal seriousness as a murder for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.”
Though murder carries with it a mandatory life sentence, the judge could have set a minimum term Couzens should serve, or hand out the full term, meaning there is no possibility of release. It was the “exceptionally high” seriousness of Sarah’s case that meant Lord Justice Fulford handed out the full life sentence.
Couzens is understood to have used his Metropolitan Police warrant card and handcuffs to abduct Sarah in March. He then drove her to Kent where he raped and murdered her, before disposing of her body in an area of woodland near Ashford, Kent, in close proximity to land owned by Couzens.
He was arrested at his home on 9th March on suspicion of kidnap, just five days after Sarah was first reported missing. Whilst in police custody the following day, it was reported that Couzens had been also been arrested on suspicion of Sarah’s murder and he was then charged.
Sarah’s family were at the Old Bailey today for Couzens’ sentencing and they also made powerful statements on Wednesday on the first day of his sentencing hearing. Sarah’s heartbroken sister Katie stated that no punishment Couzens received could compare to the pain her family have experienced.
She described her sister as “the very best person with so many people who love and cherish her”. Whilst their mother Susan is said to have described her late daughter as caring, funny and strongly principled.
“What I do know is that Sarah will never be forgotten and is remembered with boundless love,” she poignantly declared.