Sarah Everard: Wayne Couzens presented with picture in March
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Sarah Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens has been sentenced to a whole life term. The former Met Police Officer is appearing in court for his sentencing today. Couzens, 48, used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant card and handcuffs to snatch Miss Everard, 33, as she walked home from a friend’s house in south London on the evening of March 3, the Old Bailey heard.
Couzens drove with Ms Everard to a secluded rural area in Kent where he raped and subsequently killed her.
The former armed diplomatic protection officer had formulated his plan to abduct and murder three days before he kidnapped Ms Everard at the side of the road.
He drove in a repeated pattern through London in the hour or so before he found Ms Everard.
Couzens appeared in the dock at the Old Bailey in London wearing a blue suit and a black face mask.
He remained seated with his head bowed.
This is the UK’s biggest sentencing in recent years, with swarms of reporters and protesters pictured outside the Old Bailey over the course of yesterday and this morning.
The murder of Ms Everard sparked widespread outrage across the UK in March, which escalated when it emerged Couzens was a serving police officer.
Vigils took place across the nation and the fight to improve women’s safety came to the forefront.
Lord Justice Fulford is reading the sentence in court as we report.
Lord Justice Fulford has talked about the “wholly brutal” killing of Sarah Everard.
He said: “Many details as to her demise along with abundant observation as to what it symbolises has been reported by commentators.
“And no doubt following sentence I am about to pass more will be written.”
The judge said: “The sentence that I pass on the defendant must be just”, in accordance with law.
He added: “To discharge my function that I focus solely on the factors that are properly relevant to determining the correct sentence and nothing else.”
The judge said that Ms Everard must be remembered during the sentencing, and that the 33-year-old was a “wholly blameless victim of a grotesquely executed” crime.
Lord Justice Fulford was sure to point out the fact “she was simply walking home”.
He said that Couzens “used his position of a police officer to coerce her on a wholly false pretence to a car” and this was done on the false pretence “that she had breached the restrictions on movement being enforced during that stage of the pandemic.”
Lord Justice Fulford said Couzens had “spent a month driving to London working out how best to commit his crime”.
He said Couzens hired a car on February 28 which he drove to London to commit his crime and “found a place in Dover where there were no houses…and less chance of witnesses”.
He continued: “All that was missing was his victim” when he was driving around London.
“He stopped and handcuffed her on the roadside and he used his position as his police officer to enable this to happen.
“Her state of mind and what she had to endure over those 80 miles are as bleak as agonising as it is possible to imagine.
“Ultimately, she was raped and strangled to death.”
The judge pointed out that at 8.14am, Couzens bought himself a hot chocolate and a bakewell tart in Dover, during which “there can be no doubt about the increasing sense of desperation of the Everard family and other friends”.
The judge mentioned that Couzens buying food and drink and “coolly taking his family for an outing close to where he dumped Sarah Everard’s body”.
He pointed out that his “controlled and normal” call to the vets was evidence of not showing any genuine contrition.
He added: “Their lives will have been irredeemably blighted by his crime.”
Lord Justice Fulford made a point of saying how Susan, Jeremy and Katie Everard spoke yesterday while reading their impact statements “with great dignity” which “revealed the true human impact of his warped, selfish and brutal offending”.
The judge said that although Couzens may have been suffering from mild depression due to his money problems, this was not relevant to the crimes.
He also said Couzens hired the car “because it was in such a poor state that it might have alerted the victim of their arrest”.
The judge said it must have been in Couzens’ mind that he had to kill Sarah Everard.
The judge said: “I would stress therefore that I have adopted the approach that a judge should only pass a whole-life term if he is confronted with a new category of exceptionally seriousness of a case.”
He added: “Police are in a unique position that is essentially different to any other public servant. They have powers of coercion and control that are in an exceptional category.”
The stressed that using the powers of a police officer in order to kidnap, rape and murder is of equal seriousness of a political-motivated murder, which carries a whole-life term.
He added that this attacks the “fundamental underpinnings” of our democratic life.
Wayne Couzens has been sentenced to a whole-life term.
BREAKING NEWS – MORE TO COME
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