The police officer who kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard has been sentenced to a whole life order.
Lord Justice Fulford, said Ms Everard’s murder was devastating and tragic and is wholly brutal in circumstances.
With a large degree of preparation he undertook spending at least one month travelling to London to research how he’d commit his crime.
He went out on March 3rd to simply hunt a lone female to kidnap and rape her, which then ended in murder.
What do we know about the Murder of Sarah Everard murder?
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.
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.
Wayne Couzens 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.
Wayne Couzens would have been long used to exercising this authority because he had served within the police for a long time.
He was a former member of Kent Special constabulary before moving to the Civil Nuclear Police in 2011 and then moved to the Metropolitan Police in 2018.
In February 2020 he worked within the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, as an authorised Firearms Officer and had been involved within Covid patrols to ensure these regulations were being enforced.
The evidence against Wayne Couzens which involved a compilation of 1800 hours of CCTV footage, cell site evidence from mobile phones and ANPR data.
He spent at least one month travelling to London to research how to best carry out the kidnap, rape & murder.
During the time leading upto the murder he bought handcuffs, a police standard handcuff key, self-adhesive carpet protector, 14 hair bands.
The protector film was used but it is unknown why and the hair bands had been used which are was either to maintain an erection or as a means of restraint. This has never bee disputed by Wayne Couzens.
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.
During the kidnapping He used some of his police kit, 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 he 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. He 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.
Did he try and cover up the murder?
Wayne Couzens 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
He 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, he 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 he 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.
Could the Met Police have prevented the Sarah Everard murder?
Judge Fulford commended the police investigation calling it 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 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.
The Met Police quick to wash hands with the police officer fellow cops nicknamed the rapist without any red flags being raised and failed to investigate previous indecent exposure incidents committed in February.
They waited for Wayne Couzens to murder Sarah Everard before they warned he should have never worn a police uniform.
An absolute failure within the Met Police where opportunities were missed leading up to the murder.
Claiming he had no right to be a police officer but the truth is The Met police want to sway away from admitting one of their serving officers used his warrant card, hand cuffs and police powers to rape and murder Sarah.
John Apter chair of the police federation has said ‘I have not commented during the judicial process but now Couzens has been sentenced I can. This predator is an absolute disgrace to the police service, and I am totally ashamed that he was ever a police officer.’
‘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.’
‘My thoughts, and those of all my colleagues, remain entirely with Sarah’s family and friends.’
Judge Fulford has said in sentencing that the facr the defendant used his role as a police officer justified the whole life order. ‘I’ve 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’