A London police officer has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for abducting, raping and murdering Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old woman he stopped and handcuffed under the guise she had violated COVID-19 quarantine rules.
Wayne Couzens began shaking as he was sentenced Thursday by Lord Justice Adrian Fulford, who called his acts “devastating, tragic and wholly brutal.”
In March, after flashing his police identification and handcuffing Everard, the officer later raped and strangled her with his police belt. He stopped her as she was walking home from a friend’s house, under the pretense she had broken coronavirus regulations.
The case ignited a national uproar over violence against women.
The judge told Couzens he had committed “grotesque” crimes and said Everard was “an intelligent, resourceful, talented and much-loved young woman, still in the early years of her life.”
He told the packed courtroom he gave no consideration to Couzens entering guilty pleas to the charges.
“Notwithstanding your guilty pleas … I have seen no evidence of genuine contrition on your part, as opposed to evident self-pity and attempts by you to avoid or minimize the proper consequences of what you have done,” the judge said.
“You have irretrievably damaged the lives of Sarah Everard’s family and friends. You have eroded the confidence that the public are entitled to have in the police forces. You have utterly betrayed your family,” Fulford said in his sentencing remarks.
Couzens, 48, was a married father of two when he murdered Everard. He burned her remains in a refrigerator on property he owned, then dumped them in a nearby pond.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick told reporters after the sentencing that a “precious bond of trust” had been broken by Couzens, who “brought shame on the Met,” she said. His crimes constituted “a gross betrayal of everything policing stands for,” she added. “I am so sorry.”
Everard was a marketing executive. “It is almost seven months since Sarah died and the pain of losing her is overwhelming. We miss her all the time. We hold her safe in our hearts,” her family said in a statement.