The police officer who kidnapped and murdered Sarah Everard could be handed a whole life order when he is sentenced on Thursday (30 September).
Wayne Couzens, 48, raped and strangled Ms Everard with his police belt after snatching her under the guise of a fake arrest for breaking lockdown rules.
Mr Couzens used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant card and handcuffs to snatch the 33-year-old marketing executive 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, before parking up and raping her.
Ms Everard, who lived in Brixton, south London, had been strangled with the officer’s police belt by 2.30am the following morning.
Mr Couzens then burned her body in a refrigerator in an area of woodland he owned near Ashford, Kent, before dumping the remains in a nearby pond.
Amid extensive publicity as officers searched for Ms Everard, the 48-year-old took his family on a day out to the woods where he had dumped her body and allowed his two children to play close by.
Mr Couzens was arrested at his home in Deal, Kent, on 9 March after police connected him to a hire car used to kidnap Ms Everard, whose remains were discovered by police dogs the following day.
He concocted a false story after he was arrested in which he claimed he had “no choice” but to kidnap the 33-year-old and hand her over to an Eastern European gand after he tried to “rip off” one of their sex workers.
Mr Couzens was sacked from the force after he later pleaded guilty in July to her kidnap, rape and murder.
What’s been said?
Ms Everard’s parents and sister condemned her killer as a “monster” as he sat in the dock of the Old Bailey on Wednesday (29 September) with his head bowed for the start of his sentencing.
Prosecutor Tom Little QC suggested the case was so exceptional and unprecedented that it could warrant a whole life order, meaning Couzens would die in jail.
The 33-year-old’s father Jeremy Everard demanded her killer look at him and told him “there can be no redemption” for what he has done.
He said: “All my family want is Sarah back with us.
“No punishment that you receive will ever compare to the pain and torture that you have inflicted on us.
“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.”
Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick also attended court to hear how one of her own officers had abused his position and used his warrant card to kidnap Ms Everard “by fraud” before detaining her “by force”.
Mr Couzens’ defence barrister Jim Sturman QC is expected to mitigate on his behalf on Thursday morning before Lord Justice Fulford hands down his sentence.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, NationalWorld.