A former Metropolitan Police Service officer was sentenced to a whole-life prison term yesterday for the murder of Sarah Everard.
Wayne Couzens, 48 (20.12.72) appeared at the Old Bailey on the 29 and 30 September where the court heard how he kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah.
He pleaded guilty to murder on Friday, 9 July. The previous month he admitted kidnapping and raping Sarah.
They were not known to each other.
Couzens was arrested on Tuesday, 9 March, over the disappearance of Sarah in Clapham, south west London.
Commissioner Cressida Dick said: “Sarah’s kidnap, rape and murder was one of the most dreadful events in the 190-year-history of the Metropolitan Police Service.
“This hearing has revealed the full brutality of this man’s crimes against Sarah.
“I am absolutely horrified that this man used his position of trust to deceive and coerce Sarah, and I know you all are too. His actions were a gross betrayal of everything policing stands for.
“What he did was unthinkable and appalling. He showed himself to be the coward he is through his lies and seeking to minimise his true responsibility for his crimes.
“Police officers are here to protect people, to be trustworthy, courageous and compassionate. His every action is the exact opposite of that.
“As the judge said, he has eroded the confidence that the public are entitled to have in the police. It is critical that every subject in this country can trust police officers when they encounter them.
“The judge went on to say he has very considerably added to the sense of insecurity that many have living in our cities, perhaps particularly women.
“I have followed this investigation very closely, I have been in court yesterday and today. I am absolutely sickened.
“Overwhelmingly, my thoughts are with Sarah, with her family and friends, her loved ones.
“He will now spend the rest of his life in prison.
I hope that will give them some small comfort.
“This man has brought shame on the Met. Speaking frankly, as an organisation we have been rocked.
“I do want to thank everyone involved in bringing him to justice, and doing so swiftly. Sarah’s courageous and dignified family and friends, the prosecution team, and all those who supported the investigation and prosecution.
“The judge recognised and commended the work of our investigators. I echo those thoughts. I saw for myself first-hand their extraordinary determination and professionalism,.
“This is the Metropolitan Police Service I know. It is capable and caring. It is full of people who are good, who work all their lives to protect others.
“I absolutely know that there are those who feel their trust in us is shaken. I recognise that in some people a precious bond of trust has been damaged.
“Our dedication to you, our public, remains undiminished.
“As Commissioner, I will do everything in my power to ensure we learn any lessons.
“I know that what happened to Sarah, and indeed what has happened to other women in London and beyond in recent times, has raised important questions about women’s safety.
“Here in the Met I commit to keep working with others to improve women’s safety and reduce the fear of violence.
“There are no words that can fully express the fury and overwhelming sadness we all feel about what happened to Sarah. I am so sorry.”
Sarah left a friend’s house in Clapham at about 21:00hrs on Wednesday, 3 March. She left the property in Leathwaite Road through a back gate onto the A205 South Circular and began walking to her home address in Brixton. She did not return home.
At about 20:20hrs the next day she was reported missing. On Saturday, 6 March, the Met’s Specialist Crime Command begain investigating her disappearance.
Extensive efforts were made to trace Sarah. On Tuesday, 9 March, officers obtained CCTV which showed Couzens with Sarah at approximately 21:30hrs on the 3 March.
He was arrested within hours at his home address on suspicion of her kidnap. The next day he was further arrested on suspicion of her murder.
Sarah was discovered on Thursday, 11 March, in an isolated rural area known as Hoad’s Wood, in Kent. Couzens was charged with her kidnap and murder on Friday, 12 March. A charge of rape was later added following forensic results.
Wayne Couzens transferred into the Met from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) in September 2018. His first posting was to South Area, serving initially in a Safer Neighbourhood Team, before joining a response team covering the Bromley area in February 2019.
He then moved to the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command in February 2020 where his primary role was to patrol diplomatic premises, mainly embassies.
Following his arrest, a review confirmed he passed vetting processes. The checks confirmed there was no information available to the Met at the time that would have changed the vetting decision.
Couzens was not subject to any misconduct proceedings during his time at the Met.
Couzens stopped being paid as a police officer immediately following his guilty pleas. This was as soon as legally possible. The MPS held an accelerated hearing following his guilty plea. He was dismissed on 16 July.