Warning: this report contains details readers may find upsetting
Police officer Wayne Couzens used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant card to deceive muder victim Sarah Everard before handcuffing her, kidnapping, raping and killing her, his sentencing hearing in London has heard.
He approached her under the pretence she had breached Covid rules, as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3rd of this year. The killer handcuffed her with police-issued equipment.
Images seen at the Old Bailey showed 33-year old Ms Everard talking to her Couzens moments before he abducted her. He was then a police officer who had come off duty at 7am that morning. Couzens had undertaken police Covid patrols and therefore knew what language to use to convince Ms Everard that she may have broken the restrictions, the court he
Tom Little QC told the hearing that “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.” He said that the killer scoured London’s streets “hunting for a lone young female to kidnap and rape, which is what he did.”
A woman passing by had witnessed the start of Couzens’ kidnapping of Ms Everard saw him handcuff her on the pavement. Little told the court that the witness thought she was witnessing an undercover police officer arresting a woman, whom she assumed “must have done something wrong”.
“Having handcuffed her to the rear she would not have been able to undo the seatbelt that the defendant must have placed over her. That was the start of her lengthy ordeal including an 80-mile journey whilst detained which was to lead first to her rape and then her murder,” he said.
“At some point fairly soon after driving from the pavement on to the South Circular and having not gone to a police station, Sarah Everard must have realised her fate.”
Little told the court Everard was the victim of “deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation, fire”.
Ms Everard was deceived, then kidnapped before being raped and strangled. Couzens then burned her body in a refrigerator in an area of woodland he owned near Kent, before dumping Ms Everard’s remains in a pond.
The killer pleaded guilty to Ms Everard’s murder in July, and faces a mandatory life sentence. He was sacked by the police force on July 16th after he admitted in court to murdering Sarah Everard.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct has said it is carrying out an investigation into alleged failures by the Metropolitan Police to properly investigate two allegations of indecent exposure linked to Couzens in London in February 2021.
Sarah Everard’s family say her brutal death has left them haunted by her unbearable suffering. Read their victim impact statements here