Sarah Everard murder: Wayne Couzens given whole-life sentence

Sarah Everard was kidnapped while walking home in south London. Photograph: Family handout/CPS/PA

The Guardian
By Vikram Dodd and Haroon Siddique

Ex-Met officer jailed for kidnap, rape and murder of Everard whom he lured off London street

Wayne Couzens has received a whole-life sentence for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, The former Metropolitan police officer abused his police powers and knowledge to lure the 33-year-old off a south London street on 3 March 2021.

He later burned her body to try to conceal his crimes, which the Everard family say robbed them of a chance to see their murdered loved one one last time and say a proper goodbye.

Lord Justice Fulford handed down the whole-life tariff at the Old Bailey after a two-day sentencing hearing, which heard horrific details of Everard’s ordeal in her final hours.

Murder carries a mandatory life sentence, the only issue for the judge was whether he set a minimum term that Couzens would serve of 30 years, or a term meaning he could never be released.

Couzens, 48, joins a notorious list of about 60 prisoners in England and Wales who are serving whole-life sentences, He pleaded guilty to his crimes at earlier hearings after being faced with overwhelming evidence of his guilt.

Couzens went to London in a hired car “hunting” for a woman to kidnap and rape and spotted Everard walking home. He staged a false arrest, most likely exploiting Covid lockdown restrictions in force at the time.

He used his police warrant card and handcuffs to get Everard into his car, and drove her to Kent before strangling her with his police belt and burning her body.

Couzens’ barrister said his client deserved a long sentence, but not a whole-life tariff, in part because he had pleaded guilty.

Jim Sturman QC said: “He deserves a very lengthy finite term, but he did all he could after he was arrested to minimise the wicked harm that he did.”

Couzens was sacked from the Met after his plea to murder.