Sarah Everard murder: Wayne Couzens could face whole-life sentence

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  • Sarah Everard case

image source, Everard familyimage caption, The body of Sarah Everard was found hidden in woodland

A Met Police officer who strangled Sarah Everard with his police belt after kidnapping her under the guise of an arrest, could face a whole-life sentence.

Wayne Couzens abducted her as she walked home from a friend's house in Clapham, south London, on 3 March.

Couzens showed his warrant card before restraining Ms Everard, 33, putting her in his hire car and driving away.

The judge will sentence him later after hearing from the defence barrister.

Ms Everard's family said there can be "no redemption for what he had done".

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

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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.

The marketing executive, who lived in Brixton, south London, had been strangled by 02:30 GMT the following morning, the Old Bailey heard.

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

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 10 March.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was essential to establish how the police officer was able to "slip through the net" when there were "obviously warning signs".

Sir Keir, a former director of public prosecutions, told LBC Radio: "I know that thousands upon thousands of police officers doing a fantastic job are absolutely sickened by this.

"How on earth did he get through the net is the critical question that has got to be answered."

image source, Metropolitan Policeimage caption, Ms Everard had been walking to her home in Brixton at 21:00 GMT when she was abducted by Couzens

On Wednesday, Ms Everard's parents and sister condemned her killer as a "monster" as he sat in the dock of the Old Bailey with his head bowed.

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.

image source, Met Policeimage caption, Couzens' defence barrister is expected to mitigate on his behalf on Thursday

A whole-life order means the criminal is in prison for the rest of their life without ever becoming eligible for parole.

It differs from a life sentence, under which the prisoner is given a number of years they must spend in jail after which they will be eligible to apply for parole.

Whole-life tariffs are reserved for offenders judged to be the most dangerous to society.

On Thursday morning, Couzens' defence barrister Jim Sturman QC is expected to mitigate on his behalf before Lord Justice Fulford hands down his sentence

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