Wayne Couzens ‘used police ID to kidnap Sarah Everard’

Couzens pleaded guilty to the kidnap, rape and murder of Everard at earlier court hearings. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

The Guardian
By Vikram Dodd and Haroon Siddique

Sentencing hearing told serving Met officer used warrant card and Covid training to deceive 33-year-old

Wayne Couzens used police equipment, including his warrant card and training about Covid rules, to deceive Sarah Everard into getting into a car with him before he raped and murdered her, a court has heard.

Opening a two-day sentencing hearing, Tom Little QC said Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, was seized from a south London street in March 2021, with Couzens driving her to Kent where he killed her.

Couzens, who was a serving Metropolitan police officer at the time of the kidnap, got Everard into a car he had hired “by handcuffing her as well as showing her his warrant card”, Little said. Couzens kidnapped, raped and murdered Everard, then burned her body to hide his crimes, the court heard.

Little said: “He was to burn Sarah Everard’s body after he murdered her. He then moved her body in green bags that he had purchased specifically for that task.”

Couzens appeared in person at the Old Bailey in central London wearing a dark blue suit and mask, and spoke only to confirm his identity. He sat head bowed and eyes closed as the prosecutor outlined the details of his crimes, which Little said involved manipulation and deception.

Everard’s parents were in attendance, as the court heard semen was found on her body, and Couzens had tried to dispose of her mobile phone. A fragment of Everard’s SIM card was found in a car Couzens used.

Little said Couzens was likely to have been wearing his police belt with handcuffs and a rectangular black pouch, similar to a pepper spray holder, when he kidnapped Everard.

“He detained, restrained and kidnapped Sarah Everard,” Little told Lord Justice Fulford, who will decide on the sentence on Thursday.

The court was told Couzens had undertaken police Covid patrols and so knew what language to use to those who may have breached the rules. Couzens pleaded guilty to the kidnap, rape and murder of Everard at earlier court hearings.

Everard disappeared on 3 March as she walked home after visiting a friend. She was reported missing by her partner the next day when she failed to meet him as arranged. Her body was recovered seven days later from woodland near Ashford in Kent, about 20 miles west of Couzens’s home in Deal.