Sarah Everard: Couzens to die behind bars as police probe ‘more crimes’

Wayne Couzens artist impression.
Wayne Couzens artist impression.

The Met announced it will no longer deploy plain clothes officers on their own

Published

Wayne Couzens will die behind bars after kidnapping, raping and murdering Sarah Everard – as police investigate whether he is responsible for any further crimes.

The ex-Pc, 48, was handed a whole life sentence at the Old Bailey on Thursday by Lord Justice Fulford, who said his “warped, selfish and brutal” offences had eroded confidence in the police.

The judge said he had been planning for at least a month before abducting Ms Everard, 33, as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.

Metropolitan Police firearms officer Couzens, who had been “hunting” for a victim, used his warrant card and handcuffs to snatch the marketing executive off the street using Covid lockdown rules to make a false arrest.

Lord Justice Fulford said the case in which a serving officer abused his position was so exceptional it warranted a whole life order, meaning Couzens will never be freed.

It is the first time the sentence has been imposed for a single murder of an adult not committed in the course of a terror attack.

“The misuse of a police officer’s role such as occurred in this case in order to kidnap, rape and murder a lone victim is of equal seriousness as a murder for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause,” said the judge.

Couzens was said in court to have been “attracted to brutal sexual pornography” as far back as 2002.

The police watchdog previously said he was linked to a flashing incident in 2015 and two more days before he killed Ms Everard.

At a briefing at Scotland Yard following the sentencing, Assistant Met Commissioner Nick Ephgrave told reporters one of the indecent exposure incidents at a McDonald’s restaurant in Swanley was reported just 72 hours before the abduction.

Couzens was not named but his car was reported to officers, who were said to have not yet completed the investigation.

DCI Katherine Goodwin said she was not aware of any more serious allegations, but said inquiries are ongoing into whether Couzens is responsible for any other crimes.

“Thus far there is nothing of the nature or seriousness of the offences for which he has been put in prison today,” she said.

“I would like to reiterate, appeal if anyone has any information or any allegations about Wayne Couzens that they would come and speak to our team.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said “serious questions” need to be answered by the force but backed Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, who is facing fresh calls to resign over the case, which sparked a national outcry and a debate over the safety of women.

Speaking outside the Old Bailey she said Couzens had brought “shame” on the Met, adding: “I am so sorry.”

The Met announced it will no longer deploy plain clothes officers on their own.

Couzens, who had been a member of the Kent Special Constabulary before moving to the Civil Nuclear Constabulary in 2011, joined the Met in September 2018, working for the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command and on uniformed Covid patrols.

He was sacked after a disciplinary hearing held behind closed doors after he pleaded guilty to Ms Everard’s kidnap, rape and murder.

The married father-of-two, wearing a dark suit and black tie stood shaking slightly in the dock as he was sentenced and kept his head bowed as he shuffled out of court.