An officer who strangled Sarah Everard with his police belt after kidnapping her under the guise of a fake arrest for breaking lockdown rules will die in jail.
Wayne Couzens, 48, was handed a whole life order for the “grotesque” killing of the 33-year-old marketing executive which shocked and outraged the nation.
Sentencing at the Old Bailey on Thursday, Lord Justice Fulford said the seriousness of the case was so “exceptionally high” that it warranted a whole life order.
He said: “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 ideological cause.”
But who was Wayne Couzens, did he have a family, and how long will he be in prison?
Here is everything you need to know.
What did Couzens do?
Couzens used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant card and handcuffs to snatch 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, where he parked up and raped Everard.
Everard, who lived in Brixton, south London, had been strangled with Couzens’ police issue belt by 2.30am the following morning.
Couzens then burned her body in a refrigerator in an area of woodland he owned in Hoads Wood, near Ashford, before dumping the remains in a nearby pond.
Does he have a wife and children?
On 7 March – two days before his arrest – Couzens took his wife and two children on a family trip to Hoads Wood.
Prosecutor Tom Little QC said: “It follows that the defendant took his family on a family trip to the very woods where earlier he had left Sarah Everard’s body, then returned to burn it and then returned again to move it to hide it.”
He added that Couzens even allowed his children to play in relatively close proximity to where Everard’s body had been dumped in the pond.
He was arrested at his home in Deal, Kent, after police connected him to a hire car he used to abduct Everard, whose remains were found by police dogs on 10 March.
Police waited for two hours before moving in to detain the officer, giving him the chance to wipe his mobile phone beforehand.
In an emergency interview at his home, Couzens concocted a fake story that he had been “learnt” on by a gang which forced him to hand over “a girl”.
He went on to plead guilty to Everard’s kidnap, rape and murder and was sacked from the force in July.
His wife, Elena Couzens, has said what her husband did “was not human” but she failed to spot “any signs” that he was capable of committing such heinous crimes.
Did he have a nickname?
Couzens was nicknamed “The Rapist” and allegedly drove around naked in 2015, three years before he was hired by the Met, it has been reported.
Couzens’ ex-colleagues at the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC), where he joined in March 2011, reportedly gave him the nickname because he made some female officers feel uncomfortable, The Sun reports.
It has also emerged that Kent Police received a complaint from a male motorist that a man had been spotted driving around Dover naked from the waist down during the time Couzens was a volunteer.
What is his jail sentence?
Couzens has been handed a whole life order for the killing.
Whole life orders are the most severe punishment available in the UK criminal justice system for those who commit the most serious crimes.
Couzens has joined a string of some of the country’s most dangerous offenders who are expected to die behind bars.
There are 60 criminals serving whole life orders, according to Government figures to the end of June. They will never be considered for release, unless there are exceptional compassionate grounds to warrant it.
Other notorious criminals serving whole life orders include: Gloucester serial killer Rose West, Michael Adebolajo, one of Fusilier Lee Rigby’s killers; Mark Bridger, who murdered five-year-old April Jones in Wales; neo-Nazi Thomas Mair who killed MP Jo Cox; Grindr serial killer Stephen Port; and most recently the Reading terror attacker Khairi Saadallah, who murdered three men in a park.
Before they died, Moors murderer Ian Brady and his girlfriend Myra Hindley, Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, and doctor Harold Shipman – thought to be one of Britain’s most prolific serial killers – were also among those serving whole life orders.
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