Ex-London Cop Handed Life Sentence for Murder of Sarah Everard
A British police officer will spend the rest of his life in prison for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, a London judge ruled in a rare punishment reserved for the most grave and violent crimes.
Wayne Couzens, 48, then a serving London Metropolitan Police Service firearms officer, used his official identification and handcuffs to falsely arrest Everard for breaking Covid rules, which allowed him to kidnap and brutally murder her, prosecutors said over a two day hearing at the Old Bailey.
The murder of Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, sparked a public outcry and fueled debate over the rates of violence against women across the U.K. Anger over the case was amplified by images of male officers pinning down peaceful demonstrators -- mainly female -- at a vigil for Everard.
Couzens went “hunting a lone female to kidnap and rape” having planned it in “unspeakably” grim detail, Judge Adrian Fulford said in court on Thursday.
Everard disappeared on March 3 after walking home at night in south London. Her burned body was found in Kent, outside London, near land that Couzens owned about a week later. Her cause of death was identified as “forceful compression of the neck,” Tom Little, the prosecution lawyer, said earlier in the hearing.
Jim Sturman, a defense attorney, said that Couzens made “no excuses for his actions,” and deserved and expected a life-sentence.
In the U.K. a life sentence doesn’t necessarily mean a prisoner will spend the rest of their years alive behind bars. Often it can be as few as 15 years before being eligible for parole. Whole life orders -- which Couzens was given -- are imposed for particularly extremely serious violent crimes, meaning the individual will never be released.
The sentence comes almost two weeks since 28-year-old primary school teacher Sabina Nessa was killed in a south London park minutes from her home. Police charged a man with murder on Sept. 27.
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