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'The worst of humanity': Sarah Everard's killer to be sentenced
29 September 2021, 15:40 | Updated: 2 October 2021, 11:48
The police officer who kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard is to be sentenced today at the Old Bailey, where he faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life behind bars.
Wayne Couzens, a serving Metropolitan Police officer, used Covid laws to handcuff and falsely arrest Ms Everard before raping her, strangling her and burning her body, the court has heard.
Ahead of his sentencing, Couzens' defence lawyer Jim Sturman argued he shouldn't die behind bars because there have been "worse crimes".
His lawyer claimed the killer cop is "filled with self-loathing, abject shame and remorse".
Yesterday, Ms Everard's devastated mother said she is "incandescent with rage" at what happened to her daughter, and that she "spent the last hours on this earth with the very worst of humanity".
Couzens didn't look up at members of her family when they asked him to in court.
He used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant card when he snatched Ms Everard as she walked home in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.
Reading a statement on day one of Couzens' two-day sentencing, her mother Susan said: "Sarah died in horrendous circumstances. I am tormented at the thought of what she endured.
"Sarah was handcuffed, unable to defend herself, and there was no one to rescue her. She spent the last hours on this earth with the very worst of humanity.
"She lost her life because Wayne Couzens wanted to satisfy his perverted desires. It is a ridiculous reason. It is nonsensical. How could he value a human life so cheaply?
"I am incandescent with rage at the thought of it. He treated my daughter as if she was nothing and disposed of her as if she was rubbish.
"She added: "I can never talk to her, never hold her again, and never more be a part of her life.
"We have kept her dressing gown - it still smells of her and I hug that instead of her."
Images seen by the Old Bailey showed Ms Everard and Couzens talking on the pavement moments before the abduction.
Ms Everard's father asked her murderer to face him in court, telling him: "No punishment that you receive will ever compare to the pain and torture that you have inflicted on us."
Jeremy Everard asked for a photo of "my beautiful daughter" to be shown on the court's big screen, adding: "she also had a beautiful mind", before turning to face Couzens.
The killer, 48, had sat hunched over throughout his sentencing hearing and Mr Everard calmly asked him: "Mr Couzens, please will you look at me."
Couzens raised his head slightly but did not make eye contact.
Mr Everard told Couzens "there can be no redemption" for what he has done.
"No punishment that you receive will ever compare to the pain and torture that you have inflicted on us," he said.
"You murdered our daughter and forever broke the hearts of her mother, father, brother, sister, family and her friends.
"Sarah had so much to look forward to and because of you this is now gone forever.
"She was saving to buy a house and looking forward to marriage and children. We were looking forward to having grandchildren.
"We loved being a part of Sarah's world and expected her to have a full and happy life. The closest we can get to her now is to visit her grave every day."
Ms Everard's sister Katie also asked Couzens: "Will you please look at me?"
She said the family had to go to her flat in Brixton to pack up her "whole life", with washing left hanging, half-sewn outfits and packages waiting to be opened when she got home.
"But she never got home because a predator - you - was on the loose. Prowling the streets for hours looking for his prey," she told Couzens, reading her victim statement in court.
"My only hope is that she was in a state of shock and that she wasn't aware of the disgusting things being done to her by a monster."
She broke down in tears and wept as she told Couzens: "How dare you take her from me?
"Take away her hopes and dreams. Her life. Children that will never be born. Generations that will never exist. Her future no longer exists.
"The future I was supposed to live with my sister no longer exists. You have ruined so many lives."
Ms Everard studied geography at Durham University before moving to London - where her brother James and sister Katie also live - around 12 years ago, taking a break from work to travel around South America in 2013.
Living in Brixton, south London, she had recently started a new job as a marketing executive and had a boyfriend, Josh Lowth, when she was snatched on her way home from a friend's house.
She was strangled with Couzens' police belt by 2.30am on March 4.
After kidnapping her, he drove to a remote rural area north-west of Dover in Kent, where he parked up and raped Ms Everard.
Married Couzens burned her body in a refrigerator in an area of woodland he owned in Hoads Wood, near Ashford, Kent, before dumping the remains in a nearby pond.
Just days later, amid extensive publicity about Ms Everard's disappearance, he took his family on a day out to the woods, allowing his two children to play close by.
Couzens was arrested on March 9 after police trawled through some 1,800 hours of CCTV footage.
In an emergency police interview, he falsely claimed he had been forced to pick up a woman and hand her over to a gang after getting into "financial shit".
The following day, police dogs searching the woods found Ms Everard's badly burnt remains.
Couzens has pleaded guilty to kidnap, rape and murder and faces a possible full life sentence when he is sentenced by Lord Justice Fulford on Thursday.
He sat in the dock with his head bowed on Wednesday as prosecutor Tom Little QC opened the case in front of a packed courtroom, including Ms Everard's family.
Mr Little said: "Whilst it is impossible to summarise what the defendant did to Sarah Everard in just five words, if it had to be done then it would be more appropriate to do so as deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation, fire."