Sarah Everard murder: ‘Our lives will never be the same again’

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  • Sarah Everard case

image source, Everard familyimage caption, Sarah Everard's mother Susan said she had kept her daughter's dressing gown because of its familiar smell

The mother of Sarah Everard has told a court she is "tormented" at the thought of what her daughter endured.

The 33-year-old marketing executive was abducted by Met Police officer Wayne Couzens as he falsely arrested her for breaching Covid guidelines.

Couzens drove for several hours before raping and strangling her, and setting fire to her body.

Ms Everard's mother Susan told the Old Bailey she had kept her daughter's dressing gown as it smelled like her.

The sentencing hearing, which has been adjourned until Thursday, earlier heard how, on 3 March this year, Couzens used his police warrant card to trick Ms Everard into being handcuffed and getting in his hire car.

She had been walking from a friend's house in Clapham to her own home in Brixton at about 21:00 GMT.

CCTV was shown to the court which captured the moments leading up to Ms Everard being put in Couzens' car.

Two witnesses saw him handcuff her but believed he was acting legitimately as a police officer.

'I yearn for her'

Reading a victim impact statement in court, Mrs Everard said: "She spent the last hours on this Earth with the very worst of humanity.

"Sarah died in horrendous circumstances. I go through the sequence of events. I wonder when she realised she was in mortal danger.

"Burning her body was the final insult. It meant we could never again see her sweet face and never say goodbye.

image source, Everard familyimage caption, Jeremy Everard asked for this photograph of his daughter to be shown at the Old Bailey as he read his victim impact statement

"Our lives will never be the same. We should be a family of five, but now we are four. Her death leaves a yawning chasm in our lives that cannot be filled.

"I yearn for her. I remember all the lovely things about her: she was caring, she was funny. She was clever, but she was good at practical things too. She was a beautiful dancer. She was a wonderful daughter."

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Ms Everard's father Jeremy asked for a photograph of his daughter to be shown to the courtroom as he read his impact statement.

He first, though, told Couzens to look at him, saying: "No punishment that you receive will ever compare to the pain and torture that you have inflicted on us."

Prof Everard told the killer "there can be no redemption" for what he had done.

"All my family want is Sarah back with us. 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."

media caption, A CCTV timeline shows key evidence used to arrest and prosecute Wayne Couzens

Couzens' two-day sentencing hearing has been told that Ms Everard's ordeal could be summarised as "deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation, fire".

He had worked on Covid patrols in January, the court heard, and so would have known the appropriate formal terms regarding potential breaches.

Mrs Everard said: "In the evenings, at the time she was abducted, I let out a silent scream: 'Don't get in the car, Sarah. Don't believe him. Run.'"

Lucy Manning, BBC special correspondent, from the Old Bailey:image source, Elizabeth Jonesimage caption, Prof Jeremy Everard addressed the courtroom after telling Couzens to look at him

The family of Sarah Everard were dignified as they described losing a daughter, a sister and even future generations of children.

Ms Everard's sister Katie, mother Susan and father Jeremy all read out victim impact statements. Ms Everard's father and sister both directly addressed Couzens – who had his head bowed – demanding he look at them as they spoke.

Jeremy Everard told him: "I can never forgive you for what you have done, for taking Sarah away from us… she was handcuffed and unable to defend herself.

"You burnt our daughter's body – you further tortured us – so that we could not see her again. You murdered our daughter and forever broke the hearts of her mother, father, brother, sisters, family and friends."

Katie Everard asked Couzens: "What could she have thought she had done wrong? What lies did you tell her?

"When did she realise that she wasn't going to survive the night?"

A week after she disappeared, Ms Everard's body was found in a woodland stream in Ashford, Kent, just metres from land owned by Couzens.

Her body and clothes had been put inside a refrigerator and set alight before being moved in builders' bags.

The court heard that a couple of days after burning Ms Everard's body, Couzens took his wife and two children on a family trip to the woods.

The Metropolitan Police has released footage from an interview with Couzens in his home on 9 March where he claimed not to know Ms Everard after being shown her picture.

Ms Everard's sister Katie described packing up her younger sister's "whole life" when collecting her possessions from the Brixton flat she never returned to: "Washing was left hanging and packages were 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.

"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.

"I want to speak to her and hug her and hear her laugh and go out for dinners and drinks and dancing.

"All those conversations we can never have. There were so many things I wanted to share with her – trips abroad, being each other's bridesmaid, meeting her babies and being an aunty, growing old together and seeing who got the most wrinkles.

"You took her life. Children that will never be born. Generations that will never exist.

"Her future no longer exists."

Couzens, who could be given a whole-life term, has admitted kidnap, murder and rape. He will be sentenced on Thursday.

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