What happened to Sarah Everard? When did she go missing, how old was she, who killed her and aftermath

It’s been one year since the death of Sarah Everard, a crime which sparked a national outcry

When 33-year-old Sarah Everard was killed last year, it sent shockwaves up and down the country.

Her murder started a wider conversation around the safety of women on the streets and sexism at large.

Ms Everard was raped and killed by serving Met Police officer Wayne Couzens as she walked home in south London on 3 March last year.

In September, the ex-PC was handed a whole-life term after kidnapping, raping and murdering the marketing executive.

Couzens had remained an officer despite twice being accused of indecent exposure – once in 2015 while working for the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC), where colleagues nicknamed him “the rapist”, and again in the days before the murder.

So, what happened in the aftermath of Sarah’s murder - and which investigations are still ongoing?

A young boy looks at floral tributes left at Clapham Common bandstand where people continued to pay their respects to Sarah Everard on March 16, 2021 (image: Getty Images)

When did Sarah go missing?

Sarah Everard was snatched as she walked home from visiting a friend in Clapham, south London, on the evening of 3 March.

At about 9pm that night, Ms Everard had set off on foot for the two-and-a-half mile journey home from her friend’s house, chatting with her boyfriend by mobile phone on the way.

A camera attached to a passing marked police car captured her walking alone at 9.32pm.

The impact of the murder of Sarah Everard has been called a watershed moment for women’s safety (image: PA)

Just three minutes later, a bus camera appeared to capture the moment she was intercepted by Couzens in Balham, south London.

Ms Everard’s kidnapping took less than five minutes.

She was handcuffed at about 9.34pm, detained in Couzens’ hire car by 9.37pm and they were on their way to Kent a minute later.

Scotland Yard launched an urgent investigation after Ms Everard was reported missing by her boyfriend, Josh Lowth, on 4 March.

A week after she disappeared, Ms Everard’s remains were found in a woodland stream in Ashford, Kent, just metres from land owned by Couzens.

Who is Wayne Couzens? 

Wayne Couzens, the sexual predator who had clocked off from a 12-hour shift on 3 March, went on to rape and strangle the 33-year-old marketing executive then set fire to her body.

He 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.

On 3 March, it will be one year since Wayne Couzens abducted Sarah Everard (image: Kim Mogg/NationalWorld)

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 (CNC) 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 2020 and carried out office-based work in late 2020, but was assessed as being fit for full duties in December.

How did police discover Couzens’ crime?

The officer planned the crime in advance by booking a hire car for between 5pm on 3 March and 9.30am the next day.

After abducting Ms Everard, Couzens drove out of London, arriving in the area of Tilmanstone, near Deal, at 1am.

Investigators tracked the route of the car using CCTV and ANPR cameras, and identified the driver as a serving officer through the car hire firm.

Couzens had used his personal details and bank card to make the booking, picking up the Vauxhall Astra on the afternoon of the abduction and returning it the next morning.

Floral tributes and a poster saying ‘she deserved better’ were placed in tribute to Sarah Everard on Clapham Common after hundreds of people turned out in Clapham Common (image: Getty)

In the days that followed, Couzens reported that he was suffering from stress and did not want to carry a firearm any more, according to a case summary.

On 8 March, the day he was due back on duty, he called in sick.

Couzens was arrested the following day, after police trawled through some 1,800 hours of CCTV footage.

Police waited for two hours before moving in to detain Couzens at his Deal home, during which time he had wiped his phone.

How long was Couzens jailed for? 

Lord Justice Fulford handed down a whole life term to Couzens in October 2021, meaning he will die in jail.

Life imprisonment is a sentence which lasts until the death of the prisoner, although in most cases they will be eligible for early release after serving a minimum term.

Whole life terms are rare, but in exceptional cases a judge may make that order.

The Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe and Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were among those serving whole life terms.

Former Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, was handed a whole life order at the Old Bailey for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard. (Picture: PA)

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

In October, the Court of Appeal confirmed that an application to bring an appeal against Couzens’ sentence had been lodged.

The hearing is likely to be in early May but a date has not been fixed and may change.

What has happened in the aftermath of Sarah’s murder?

Campaigners including Reclaim These Streets are part of a legal bid to try to force the Government to hold a statutory public inquiry to investigate misogyny in policing.

Currently, Dame Elish Angiolini is leading the first part of a non-statutory inquiry looking at how Couzens was able to work as a police officer for three different forces – Kent police, the CNC and the Met – despite concerns about his behaviour.

Following this, there are plans for a second part that would look at wider issues in policing.

The Met has also commissioned its own review of the culture and standards at the force, including Couzen’s former unit – the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command.

Former Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick makes a statement to the media outside the Old Bailey in London, after police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, was handed a whole life order (image: PA)

In the wake of Ms Everard’s death, one officer faced misconduct proceedings after sharing a highly offensive meme relating to her kidnap.

And, earlier this month, the police watchdog published disturbing misogynist, homophobic and violently racist messages shared by officers based at Charing Cross Police station between 2016 and 2018.

The fallout led to the resignation of Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick after London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was not satisfied with her response to the scandal.

This week, one year on from Sarah’s death, police are expected to be told to make tackling violence against women and girls as much a priority as fighting terrorism, child sexual abuse and serious and organised crime.

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