Sarah Everard murder: Wayne Couzens sentenced to whole life order

The police officer who kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard has been sentenced to a whole life order.

The judge, Lord Justice Fulford, said Ms Everard’s murder by Wayne Couzens was “devastating” and “tragic” – and happened in “wholly brutal circumstances”.

Stressing the “degree of preparation” he undertook, spending at least a month travelling to London to research how to commit his crimes, the judge said Couzens went out on 3 March “hunting a lone female to kidnap and rape”.

Couzens, 48, was earlier branded “a monster” in court by the 33-year-old marketing executive’s family.

The judge described Ms Everard as an “intelligent, resourceful, talented and much loved young woman”, who was “a wholly blameless victim of a grotesque series of circumstances that culminated in her death”.

Live updates from Wayne Couzens’ sentencing hearing

Ahead of sentencing, Couzens’ lawyer Jim Sturman QC urged the judge not to give his client a whole life sentence.

While admitting the case was a “truly horrible crime” with “dreadful consequences”, Mr Sturman suggested 30 years would be a “starting point”.

He said Couzens’ behaviour was “inexplicable” to the killer’s friends and family, and that it is hoped therapy “might unlock what drove this”.

But Lord Justice Fulford said his crimes were “warped, selfish and brutal”, and that the last moments of Ms Everard’s life were “as bleak and agonising as it is possible to imagine”.

Couzens had used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant cards and handcuffs to kidnap Ms Everard as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, on the evening of 3 March.

The firearms officer, who had clocked off from a 12-hour shift at the American embassy that morning, drove her to a secluded rural area near Dover in Kent before raping her.

By 2.30am the following morning, he had strangled Ms Everard with his police belt.

Couzens then burned her body in a refrigerator in an area of woodland he owned in Hoads Wood, near Ashford, Kent, before he dumped the remains in a nearby pond.

Days later, he took his family on a day out to the woods and allowed his two children to play nearby.

When he was arrested at his home in Deal on 9 March, he concocted a story about being threatened by a gang, but later pleaded guilty to kidnapping, raping and murdering Ms Everard.

In court, Mr Sturman acknowledged that Couzens initially told “ridiculous lies” to police about what happened, but he had since taken responsibility.

The judge noted that he’d not only lied to his family, but also to his family “about working a night shift on 3 March”.

But Mr Sturman said that Couzens “demonstrates genuine remorse”, and had argued there was “little evidence to suggest he travelled with murder in mind”.

Speaking at the Old Bailey on Wednesday, Ms Everard’s family said they could never forgive Couzens as he sat in the dock while shaking with his head bowed.

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’s mother said she was “incandescent with rage” at what he had done, saying Couzens 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.”

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