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30 September 2021

Wayne Couzens’ barrister says the former policeman does not deserve a whole life sentence for abducting, raping murdering and burning Sarah Everard

30 September 2021

Wayne Couzens could not look at Sarah Everard’s family and is “ashamed” after kidnapping, raping and murdering her, his barrister has said.

The 48-year-old used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant card and handcuffs to snatch Ms Everard 33, in a fake arrest as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.

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 Ms Everard.

Wayne Couzens, right, was caught on CCTV approaching Sarah Everard (Met Police/PA) (PA Media)

The marketing executive, who lived in Brixton, south London, had been strangled with Couzens’s police belt by 2.30am the following morning.

Married Couzens 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.

He was arrested at his home in Deal, Kent, after police connected him to a hire car he used to abduct Ms Everard, whose remains were found by police dogs on March 10.

Couzens was sacked from the force after he pleaded guilty in July to her kidnap, rape and murder.

Lord Justice Fulford is due to sentence Couzens later at the Old Bailey on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Ms Everard’s parents and sister asked Couzens to look at them as they read their victim impact statements.

Sarah Everard was snatched by Wayne Couzens while walking home from a friend’s house (Met Police/PA) (PA Media)

Prosecutor Tom Little QC suggested the case was so exceptional and unprecedented that it could warrant a whole life order, meaning Couzens will die in jail.

But Couzens’s barrister, Jim Sturman QC, on Thursday urged the judge to impose a determinate sentence, which would mean he would be eligible for release in his 80s.

He said: “He was invited to look at the Everards. He could not I am told. He is ashamed.

“What he has done is terrible. He deserves a very lengthy finite term but he did all he could after he was arrested to minimise the wicked harm that he did.”

Mr Sturman said Couzens’s guilty pleas had saved the Everards “the terror” of what the verdicts would be.

Wayne Couzens was said to be too ashamed to look at the family of his victim in court (Elizabeth Cook/PA) (PA Wire)

He said his family struggled to reconcile how “the man they loved” who had given “no indication of violence towards the person” could have “behaved in this way”.

Mr Sturman added: “He appeared to be living a life as a law-abiding man with a loving family and his colleagues described him as calm and friendly.

“Nothing I say today is at all intended to minimise the horror of what the defendant did that night and after.

“He makes no excuses for his actions, he accepts he will receive, and he deserves, a severe punishment.

“No right-minded person… can feel anything other than revulsion for what he did.

“He does not seek to make excuses for anything that he did and he is filled with self-loathing and abject shame. And he should be.”

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