Sarah Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens handed whole life sentence for her kidnap, rape and murder

Wayne Couzens is the first police officer to receive a whole-life order and will die behind bars.

The Met Police officer who kidnapped and murdered Sarah Everard has been sentenced to a whole-life term in prison.

Wayne Couzens, 48, raped and strangled Ms Everard with his police belt after snatching her under the guise of a fake arrest for breaking lockdown rules.

At Thursday’s sentencing at the Old Bailey in London the judge said the case was “devastating, tragic and wholly brutal”.

Lord Justice Fulford added that the seriousness of the case was so “exceptionally high” that Couzens would never be released from jail.

The judge said that what Ms Everard had to endure in the final hours of her life “would have been as bleak and as agonising as it is possible to imagine”.

What happened?

Mr Couzens used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant card and handcuffs to snatch the 33-year-old marketing executive Ms Everard as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, on the evening of 3 March.

The firearms officer, who had clocked off from a 12-hour shift at the American embassy that morning, drove to a secluded rural area near Dover in Kent, before parking up and raping her.

Ms Everard, who lived in Brixton, south London, had been strangled with the officer’s police belt by 02:30am the following morning.

Mr Couzens then burned her body in a refrigerator in an area of woodland he owned near Ashford, Kent, before dumping the remains in a nearby pond.

Amid extensive publicity as officers searched for Ms Everard, the 48-year-old took his family on a day out to the woods where he had dumped her body and allowed his two children to play close by.

Mr Couzens was arrested at his home in Deal, Kent, on 9 March after police connected him to a hire car used to kidnap Ms Everard, whose remains were discovered by police dogs the following day.

He concocted a false story after he was arrested in which he claimed he had “no choice” but to kidnap the 33-year-old and hand her over to an Eastern European gang after he tried to “rip off” one of their sex workers.

Mr Couzens was sacked from the force after he later pleaded guilty in July to her kidnap, rape and murder.

Wayne Couzens raped and strangled Ms Everard with his police belt after snatching her under the guise of a fake arrest (Photo: Metropolitan Police)

Who is Wayne Couzens?

Wayne Couzens, was a serving police officer at the time of the murder. Days before the murder he had booked the hire of a Vauxhall Astra and bought a roll of self-adhesive film.

He used to work at his father’s garage in Dover before joining the Kent Special Constabulary at some point after 2002.

Couzens joined the Civil Nuclear Constabulary in 2011 before transferring to the Met in 2018.

Two years later he began working for the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command as an authorised firearms officer at diplomatic premises around central London.

He was not able to carry a gun after damaging a finger in a drilling injury in July last year and carried out office-based work in late 2020, but was assessed as being fit for full duties in December.

The court heard how the officer planned in advance by booking a hire car for between 17:00 on 3 March to 09:30 the next day.

Mr Little said there was “no credible alternative explanation for his need to hire a car other than to use that car to kidnap and rape a lone woman”.

“His movements were consistent with the defendant looking for, or hunting, for a lone young female to kidnap and rape, which is precisely what he did,” the prosecutor said.

CCTV footage showed Couzens raising his left arm holding a warrant card before handcuffing Ms Everard and putting her into the hire car.

The married father-of-two was described as a “family man” by colleagues in the force, who were said to have noticed nothing unusual about his behaviour.

But he had set up a profile on dating website match.com on 2 December last year, using his middle name “Antony”, giving a false date of birth, and claiming that he was separated, had no children and lived in Canterbury.

He was also in contact with an escort with the username “escourtbabygirl”, the court heard.

Couzens burned Ms Everard’s body in a refrigerator in an area of woodland he owned in Hoads Wood, near Ashford, Kent, before dumping the remains in a nearby pond.

Just days later, amid extensive publicity about her disappearance, he took his family on a day out to the woods, allowing his children to play close by.