Met Police officer who raped and murdered Sarah Everard sentenced

Met Police officer who kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard will today learn whether he will the spend rest of his life in jail: Wayne Couzens, 48, will stand before judge after horrific killing that sparked world-wide outpouring of grief and fury

  • Marketing executive went missing walking home in London on March 3 from a friend’s house in Clapham
  • A police investigation was launched and her body was found a week later in woodland in Kent
  • Serving Met Police officer Wayne Couzens was charged over her disappearance, death and kidnap
  • Earlier this year he admitted he had snatched her, raped her and murdered her in a depraved attack.
  • His sentencing at the Old Bailey today is expected to be attended by Ms Everard’s family and friends 

A serving Met Police Service officer who kidnapped, raped and murdered marketing executive Sarah Everard will face justice today for his appalling crimes.

Armed protection officer Wayne Couzens, 48,  snatched marketing executive Ms Everard, 33, off the street as she walked home in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.

Couzens – who has now been dismissed from the force – drove her 50 miles away to Kent where he raped and murdered her.

The sexual predator, who had clocked off from a 12-hour shift that morning targeted her after driving through the streets looking for a victim.

He had early bought supplies for a sickening kill and kidnap kit from Amazon.

A week after she disappeared, Ms Everard’s body was found in a woodland stream in Ashford, Kent, just metres from land owned by Couzens.

The firearms-trained parliamentary and diplomatic protection officer wiped his phone just minutes before he was arrested at his home in Deal, Kent, on March 9.

The killing prompted national outrage and sparked protests at the rate of violence against women.

Police officer Wayne Couzens kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard in depraved crime after he had finished his shift

Ms Everard, 33, was snatched off the street as she walked home in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3

Ms Everard’s death sparked an outpouring of grief, outrage and a series of protests at the rate of violence against women

In July, Couzens pleaded guilty to Ms Everard’s murder, kidnap and rape by video link from jail.

This morning he will come face-to-face with his victim’s family when he is brought into the dock of the Old Bailey for the start of his sentencing.

Prosecutor Tom Little QC will open the case, revealing more information about how Ms Everard met her death and how police tracked down the culprit.

Couzens’ lawyer Jim Sturman QC is then expected to offer mitigation on behalf of the defendant.

Before handing down his sentence on Thursday, Lord Justice Fulford will consider a whole life order, which could mean Couzens may never be released from prison.

Speaking outside the Old Bailey in July, Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said she was “very sorry” for the loss, pain and suffering of the Everard family.

CCTV footage of Sarah Everard captured earlier on the night she was kidnapped in March, sparking a nationwide hunt

A number of areas were searched in Clapham as police tried to look for missing Sarah before the hunt moved to Kent

Killer officer was accused of indecent exposure three days before he murdered Sarah

The public reacted with horror when the Metropolitan Police announced that one of their own had been arrested over the death of Sarah Everard.

Wayne Couzens, who is married with children, was a highly trusted member of the force’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command.

The armed unit is responsible for guarding the Parliamentary estate, including Downing Street and the Palace of Westminster, as well as embassies in London.

The 48-year-old officer had been accused of indecent exposure in a branch of fast food restaurant McDonald’s three days before Miss Everard died, but was not arrested or taken off duty while the matter was investigated.

A number of separate troubling incidents involving police officers have attracted public attention in recent months.

In June, West Mercia Pc Benjamin Monk was convicted of the manslaughter of former footballer Dalian Atkinson, having kicked the 48-year-old in the head twice after what the judge called an ‘excessive’ 33-second use of a Taser.

In April, former probationary Metropolitan Police officer Ben Hannam, 22, was found guilty of membership of banned right-wing extremist group National Action (NA) and jailed for four years.

He had been with the London force for nearly two years before he was found on a leaked database of users of extreme right-wing forum Iron March and arrested last year.

Hannam, who pleaded guilty to possessing a prohibited image of a child, was also convicted of lying on his application and vetting forms to join the police and having two terror documents detailing knife combat and making explosive devices.

In March, ex-Pc Oliver Banfield, who served with West Midlands Police, was given a curfew and ordered to pay compensation and costs after admitting assault by beating. 

She said: “All of us in the Met are sickened, angered and devastated by this man’s truly dreadful crimes. Everyone in policing feels betrayed.”

The police watchdog has received a string of referrals relating to the Couzens case, with 12 police officers being investigated. 

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it was looking at whether the Met failed to investigate two allegations of indecent exposure relating to Couzens in February, just days before the killing.

Kent Police are also being investigated over their response to a third allegation of indecent exposure dating back to 2015.

The case has prompted renewed concern about police recruitment checks and why Couzens continued to hold a warrant card, despite the allegations of sexual offences.

Scotland Yard has said there was no information available at the time that would have altered the vetting decision in his case.

When the killer first appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on March 13, prosecutor Zoe Martin detailed how the investigation began the day after Ms Everard was last seen.

‘Sarah Everard saw a friend in the Clapham Junction area, on March 3 and bought a bottle of wine.

‘She left that address at about 9pm to come home. Her address was about two and half miles away and a 9.15pm she called her boyfriend for about 15 minutes.

‘That call finished at 9.28pm and there has been no further activity on her phone since then. 

‘She was reported missing at 8.10pm on March 4 after she failed to meet her boyfriend as arranged.

‘Investigating officers became involved on Friday March 5. Sarah Everard was captured on CCTV at 9.15pm.

‘The next siting was at 9.28pm and again she was alone.

‘At 9.38pm a bus camera captures two figures standing by a White Vauxhall Astra. One of the figures had lighter clothing and the other darker clothing.

‘Another bus camera also capture the same vehicle. The registration of the vehicle was captured and the police tracked the vehicle using CCTV.’

The Vauxhall drove to Tilmanstone in Kent.

‘The white Vauxhall Astra is a hire car with Enterprise Car Hire in Dover. On 28 February 2021 Wayne Couzens (WC) booked a hire car using his name, address and two different mobile numbers.

‘He paid a deposit using his bank card. WC collected the white Vauxhall Astra seen in the CCTV on Wednesday 3 March 2021 at 16.45 and returned it at approximately 08.30 on 4 March 2021. 

Sarah’s family leave the Old Bailey after a previous hearing where Couzens made two guilty pleas. Her father Jeremy is seen on the left, with her sister Katie can be seen on the right.

There was a huge search for Sarah Everard after she went missing after visiting a friend before her remains were found in Kent

Police today released this mugshot of murderer police officer Wayne Couzens after he admitted the offences early this year

The disappearance of Sarah Everard and Wayne Couzens’ arrest

March 3: Sarah disappeared after leaving a friend’s home in Clapham at around 9pm. She leaves out of her friend’s back gate and speaks to her boyfriend on the phone for 15 minutes.  

March 5: Sarah’s family share missing posters of her after they become increasingly concerned that she is still not home, spreading the word online with links to the Missing People charity.

March 6: Met Police release an appeal, saying Sarah was thought to have walked through Clapham Common, heading towards Brixton home, a journey of 50 minutes. They say they are not certain she ever arrived home.

March 7: Police release footage of Ms Everard and say she was walking alone on A205 Poynders Road towards Tulse Hill when she was last seen on CCTV, which has not been released to the police.

March 8: Specialist officers are drafted and 120 calls from public come in. A door-to-door operation sees police speak to 750 families.

March 9: Police search gardens near Ms Everard’s route and nearby Oaklands Estate.

Officers also search a pond in Clapham Common and drains along the A205. 

11.59pm: Met police officer Wayne Couzens arrested in Kent on suspicion of kidnap. 

‘On investigating the telephone numbers given to Enterprise it is discovered that WC is a serving police officer; it is the same mobile number on his personal records at the MPS. 

‘He is currently employed within the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Group and is a trained firearms officer.

‘On 2 March 2021 at 19.00 he started work at his base in Lille Road, West Brompton and worked a 12-hour shift. He then began a period of leave and was not due back at work until Monday 8 March.

‘On 5 March he reported to work that he was suffering with stress. On 6 March he emailed his supervisor to say that he no longer wanted to carry a firearm. On 8 March he reported in sick.’

Couzens was arrested at his home in Deal on 9 March and interviewed but told investigators a pack of absurd lies.

She added: ‘He initially said he ‘did not know Sarah Everard ‘.

‘He then disclosed that he had financial difficulties and he and his family were being threatened by a gang of Eastern Europeans,’ said the prosecutor.

‘He said that 2/3 weeks ago he had underpaid a prostitute (he usually meets them at Hotel Bursten or the Holiday Inn in Folkestone) and a gang with links to this prostitute told him that, as a consequence, he had to deliver them ‘another girl’.

‘They said that if he didn’t, they would harm his family. He also detailed that that the gang had been watching him at his house.

‘He said he kidnapped SE and drove her out of London. When he got between Ashford and Maidstone, he was flashed by a Mercedes Van with Romanian number plates. 

‘He pulled into a layby and three Eastern European men got out of the van and took SE.

‘This was between 23.00 and 23.30 on 3 March 2021 and she was still alive and uninjured when he delivered her to the men.

‘He gave a description of the men and a rough indication of the location of the exchange. 

‘Police established that WC and his wife purchased a small area of land in 2019.

‘The woodland is off Fridd Lane in Ashford. This together with the phone data which will be briefly summarised, led to the area being designated as a crime scene.

‘At about 16.45 on 10 March 2021 a body was discovered approximately 100 meters away from the area owned by WC. The body was in a large green builders’ bag and deposited in a stream. As referred to, dental records have confirmed that this is the body of SE.’

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