Trigger warning: This article references sexual assault
Former police officer, Wayne Couzens, who was found guilty of kidnapping, raping and murdering Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old woman in South London, has been sentenced to whole-life in prison. This means that unlike a life sentence (which sees most people ordered to actually serve a minimum term in prison, determined by a judge after they’re found guilty, rather than their entire life), he will remain incarcerated until his death. Couzens will also never be eligible for parole.
During yesterday's court hearing, more upsetting details emerged surrounding how he intercepted Sarah on her walk home in Clapham and forced her into a car he had hired on 3 March. Couzens showed Sarah a warrant badge and said that he was arresting her for breaking Covid rules, before ushering her into the vehicle. The 48-year-old had assisted with real Covid patrols in earlier this year in January and earlier that day had done a guarding shift at the US Embassy.
The car was then driven out of London to Tilmanstone, near Deal in Kent, where Couzens is thought to have attacked and killed Sarah. The marketing executive's body was discovered a week later in a woodland stream near Ashford, Kent, mere metres from land owned by Couzens. Follow-up examinations found that he had sexually assaulted, then strangled her.
It's said that Couzens took his wife and two children to the same woods for a family trip a couple of days after burning Sarah's body.
Speaking in court on 29 September, Sarah's mother, Susan Everard, said she is 'tormented' by what her daughter went through.
"She spent the last hours on this earth with the very worst of humanity. Sarah died in horrendous circumstances. I go through the sequence of events. I wonder when she realised she was in mortal danger," she read aloud. "Burning her body was the final insult. It meant we could never again see her sweet face and never say goodbye. Our lives will never be the same. We should be a family of five, but now we are four."
She added, "In the evenings, at the time she was abducted, I let out a silent scream: 'Don't get in the car, Sarah. Don't believe him. Run.'"
Previously, the Met Police issued a statement that said: "We are sickened, angered and devastated by this man's crimes, which betray everything we stand for. Our thoughts are with Sarah's family and her many friends. It is not possible for us to imagine what they are going through."
An ex-boyfriend of Sarah's described her as "extremely intelligent, savvy and streetwise" and "not a gullible person", suggesting that he could not imagine her getting into Couzens's car without some sort of force or manipulation being used in the process.
During a previous public statement, issued via Scotland Yard, Sarah’s parents, Jeremy and Susan, along with her older siblings, James and Katie, described her as "strong and principled and a shining example to us all".
Born in Surrey, Sarah moved as a child to York and attendant Durham University to study Geography.
Our thoughts are with all of Sarah's loved ones during this very difficult time.
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