September 30, 2021
A police officer who kidnapped, raped and murdered a 33-year-old woman in London in March this year has been sentenced to life in prison.
Wayne Couzens, who served in the London Metropolitan Police, abducted Sarah Everard, a marketing executive, while she was walking home from a friend’s house in south London on 3 March.
Her body was found a week later in a woodland area in Kent and a post-mortem found she had died from compression to the neck.
Couzens was arrested in connection with the incident the day before her remains were found.
Everard’s disappearance and death – and the involvement of a serving police officer – became a dominant topic among the British press and public in the months that followed, prompting many women to discuss common fears for their safety when walking alone at night.
Hundreds of people attended a vigil to remember her, days after she was found.
Protesters defied a police ban on the event due to the coronavirus crisis, and police were heavily criticised for clashes with those who attended.
During the trial, it emerged Couzens detained and handcuffed Sarah Everard on the pretext that she had broken COVID-19 lockdown rules before kidnapping her.
Couzens joined the Metropolitan Police in 2018 and had worked as part of a team protecting diplomatic locations in central London.
He had worked an overnight shift at the US Embassy on the day he kidnapped Everard.
In his sentencing remarks at London’s Old Bailey, the judge Lord Justice Fulford said Couzens had “eroded the confidence that the public are entitled to have in the police forces of England and Wales”.
He handed down the strongest sentence – life in prison – for what he said was an attack with significant planning and premeditation.