A former police officer who abducted, raped and murdered Sarah Everard took his victim’s phone and tried to destroy it, a court has heard.
Wayne Couzens, 48, was an on-duty Metropolitan Police officer when he used his post to “arrest” and abduct Ms Everard as she walked to her home in Clapham, south London, on the night of March 3. .
He had come off a 12-hour shift that morning when he raped and killed the 33-year-old marketing executive, whose death sparked outrage and protests over rates of violence against women, before setting her body ablaze.
Opening a two-day sentencing hearing at the Old Bailey, prosecutor Tom Little QC said Couzens’ crimes could be summed up in five words: “Deception, kidnapping, rape, strangulation, fire.”
Couzens took Ms Everad’s mobile phone and threw it into a river in Sandwich, Kent, hours after killing her, and a broken fragment of an EE SIM card from the phone was later found in her car, the court heard.
“He must have taken it off the phone and tried to destroy it by taking the phone from it,” Little said.
Everard had violated coronavirus regulations by visiting a friend for dinner in Clapham Junction during the third national lockdown and was on her way to her Brixton home when Couzens “arrested” her.
Couzens, who was then a diplomatic protection officer in service with the Metropolitan Police, handcuffed her around 9.34 p.m. after showing her his authorization card, the court heard.
Everard was described by a longtime ex-boyfriend as “extremely smart, cunning, and cunning” and “not a naive person” who could be imagined getting into a car with a stranger “unless by force or manipulation” .
Little said Couzens was familiar with the coronavirus regulations, so he would have known what language to use for those who may have violated them.
Couzens was said to have been wearing his police belt with handcuffs and a rectangular black bag, similar to pepper spray, when he abducted Ms Everard.
He put it in the back of a Vauxhall Astra, hired in Dover with his own personal details and bank card, around 9:37 p.m.
The married father of two made his way to Kent, 80 miles away, a minute later. At around 11.30pm, Ms. Everard was transferred from the rental car to Couzen’s Seat car, which was left in a non-residential area in Dover.
The kidnapping lasted less than five minutes in total.
Couzens then drove to a remote rural area northwest of Dover, who knew well where he parked and raped Ms. Everard, the Old Bailey was told.
The Seat car was captured by an ANPR camera on a road in Dover at 2.31 a.m. M. According to Mr. Little, “It is at this point that Sarah Everard was most likely killed.”
The moment Couzens confronted Ms Everard in South London was captured on security footage and witnessed by a couple traveling in a car.
He was a mile from his home when cameras on two buses, a garbage truck, and a tagged police car captured footage of Couzens talking to Everard next to the car, which was parked on the sidewalk with its hazard lights on and doors on. open.
The passenger in the vehicle said she saw Couzens and Ms. Everard standing on the sidewalk. He saw how Ms. Everard was handcuffed, Little told the court.
“Sarah Everard was complacent, head down and didn’t seem to be arguing,” he said.
Mr. Little added that the passenger believed she was witnessing an undercover police officer arresting a woman who he assumed “must have done something wrong.”
She told her husband that she had seen “a woman in handcuffs,” when “they were actually witnessing the kidnapping of Sarah Everard,” Little said.
Couzens, who was told by the court that he owed thousands of pounds, cleaned his phone minutes before being arrested at his home in Deal on March 9.
The next day, a week after Ms Everard’s disappearance, her body was found in a stream in Ashford, Kent, just yards from Couzens-owned land.
Fragments of his clothing were found in a nearby forest, where his body had been burned.
Mr. Little said that while Couzens was in the woods, he must have “moved Sarah Everard’s heavily burned body from where he had set her on fire, to the pond where she was later found” using the bags he purchased from B&Q.
In July, Couzens pleaded guilty to the murder, kidnapping and rape of Ms. Everard by video link from jail.
The court heard how Couzens wore his police belt and handcuffs while off duty and that he had a profile on Match.com, in which he gave various false details about himself. He was also in contact with an escort through an escort service.
The police watchdog has received a number of referrals related to the Couzens case, and 12 police officers are under investigation.
A lead investigator on the Sarah Everard case, former DCI Simon Harding, has told Sky News police officers I “don’t see” Couzens as a police officer and he “should never have been near a uniform.”
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.
She said: “All of us at the Met are sick, angry and devastated by the truly gruesome crimes of this man. Everyone in the police feels betrayed.”
The Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) said it was looking into whether the Met failed to investigate two allegations of indecent exposure related to Couzens in February, just days before the murder.
Kent Police are also under investigation for their response to a third indictment of indecent exposure dating back to 2015.
Before Wednesday’s hearing, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “We are sick, angry and devastated by the crimes of this man who betrays everything we stand for.
“Our thoughts are with Sarah’s family and her many friends. We cannot imagine what they are going through.
“We recognize that your actions raise many questions and concerns, but we will not comment further until the hearing is complete.”