The police officer who abducted, raped and murdered Sarah Everard has been sentenced to life in prison.
The judge, Lord Justice Fulford, said that Wayne Couzens’ murder of Ms. Everard was “devastating” and “tragic”, and occurred in “totally brutal circumstances”.
Highlighting the “degree of preparedness” he carried out, spending at least a month traveling to London to investigate how to commit his crimes, the judge said Couzens left on March 3 “in search of a lonely woman to kidnap and rape.”
Couzens, 48, was before rated “a monster” in court by the family of the 33-year-old marketing executive.
The judge described Ms Everard as an “intelligent, resourceful, talented and much loved young woman” who was “a totally innocent victim of a series of grotesque circumstances that culminated in her death.”
Before sentencing, Couzens’ attorney, Jim Sturman QC, urged the judge not to give his client a life sentence.
While admitting that the case was a “truly horrible crime” with “dire consequences,” Sturman suggested that 30 years would be a “starting point.”
He said Couzens’ behavior was “inexplicable” to the killer’s friends and family, and that it is hoped that therapy “can unlock what caused this.”
But Lord Justice Fulford said that her crimes were “twisted, selfish and brutal”, and that the last moments of Ms Everard’s life were “as bleak and agonizing as can be imagined”.
Couzens had used their Metropolitan Police warrant cards and their handcuffs to kidnap Ms. Everard while walking home from a friend’s house in Clapham, South London, on the night of March 3.
The firearms officer, who had come off a 12-hour shift at the US embassy that morning, took her to a secluded rural area near Dover in Kent before raping her.
At 2.30 the next morning, he had strangled Ms. Everard with his police belt.
Couzens then burned his body in a refrigerator in a wooded area he owned in Hoads Wood, near Ashford, Kent, before dumping the remains in a nearby pond.
Days later, he took his family out to the forest for a day and allowed his two sons to play nearby.
When he was arrested at his home in Deal on March 9, he made up a story about being threatened by a gang, but later pleaded guilty to kidnapping, raping and murdering Ms. Everard.
In court, Sturman acknowledged that Couzens initially told police “ridiculous lies” about what happened, but has since taken responsibility.
The judge noted that he had lied not only to his family, but also to his family “about working a night shift on March 3.”
But Sturman said Couzens “shows genuine remorse,” and had argued that there was “little evidence to suggest that he traveled with the murder in mind.”
Speaking at the Old Bailey on Wednesday, Ms Everard’s family said they could never forgive Couzens as he sat on the dock while shaking his bowed head.
His father, Jeremy Everard, demanded that the killer look at him as he said, “I can never forgive you for what you’ve done, for pushing Sarah away.”
Susan Everard’s mother said she was “incandescent with rage” at what she had done, saying that Couzens disposed of her daughter “like she was trash.”
He added: “I am outraged that he posed as a policeman to get what he wanted.”