Sarah Everard: What could Wayne Couzens face as a whole-of-life order?

Sarah Everard: What could Wayne Couzens face as a whole-of-life order?

Wayne Couzens, the police officer who kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard in March, will be sentenced today.

Couzens used his police card and handcuffs in order to persuade Everard into his vehicle in Clapham. The court heard that Couzens claimed that he was imposing Coronavirus lockdowns.

The prosecutor stated that he drove her to Kent woodlands where he raped and strangled her before setting fire to her body. Her remains were found one week later. This triggered vigils and calls to action across the country.

Lord Justice Fulford will decide on the minimum length of Couzens’ life sentence on Thursday at the Old Bailey in central London and prosecutor Tom Little QC has argued he should be handed a whole life order due to the severity of his crimes.

What is a whole life order?

Whole life orders are some of the harshest punishments in the UK. These orders mean that a prisoner cannot be released unless they have exceptional compassionate grounds.

The sentence is a death sentence.

How do you determine if a criminal is sentenced to a life sentence?

In the past, home secretaries were able to issue whole life tariffs. Judges now have this power.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, currently undergoing Parliament, allows the Government to expand the use whole life orders for the premeditated killing of a child.

Judges could also be allowed to sentence 18-year-olds to maximum sentences in certain cases, such those involving terroristic acts that resulted in mass casualties.

Judges will have the option to impose whole-life orders on 18-year-olds and over, but not under 21, in certain circumstances.

Which criminals are currently serving whole-life orders?

According to government figures, 60 criminals are currently serving whole-life orders.

Milly Dowler’s killer Levi Bellfield is thought to be the only criminal in UK legal history to be serving two whole life orders for her murder as well as the killings of Marsha McDonnell and Amelie Delagrange and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy between 2002 and 2003.

Other notorious criminals serving whole life orders include serial killer Rose West, Michael Adebolajo, one of Fusilier Lee Rigby’s killers; Mark Bridger, who murdered five-year-old April Jones in Wales; neo-Nazi Thomas Mair who killed MP Jo Cox; Grindr serial killer Stephen Port and the Reading terror attacker Khairi Saadallah, who murdered three men in a park in 2020.

The whole-life orders were issued to Moors murderers Ian Brady (and Myra Hindley), Peter Sutcliffe the Yorkshire Ripper, and Harold Shipman, a doctor.

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