Sarah Everard: Ex-police officer Wayne Couzens to be sentenced at Old Bailey for murder of marketing exec

Wayne Couzens was a serving officer with the Met Police when he killed Sarah Everard

<p>Sarah Everard was kidnapped as she walked home in Clapham on March 3, 2021.</p>

Sarah Everard was kidnapped as she walked home in Clapham on March 3, 2021.

A former police officer who kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard will return to the Old Bailey to learn if he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Wayne Couzens, 48, snatched Ms Everard as she walked home in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.

Wayne Couzens has pleaded guilty to the murder of Sarah Everard and will be sentenced on 29 September.

The sexual predator, who had clocked off from a 12-hour shift that morning, went on to rape and strangle the 33-year-old marketing executive.

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.

National outrage

The firearms-trained parliamentary and diplomatic protection officer wiped his phone just minutes before he was arrested at his home in Deal, Kent, on March 9.

The killing prompted national outrage and sparked protests at the rate of violence against women.

Kate Middleton was also seen making a visit to the bandstand on Clapham Common where floral tributes were laid in memory of the 33-year-old.

People gathered to lay flowers and pay their respects at a vigil on Clapham Common where floral tributes were placed for Sarah Everard on March 13, 2021 (image: Getty)

Guilty plea

In July, Couzens pleaded guilty to Ms Everard’s murder, kidnap and rape by video link from jail.

On Wednesday, he will come face-to-face with his victim’s family when he is brought into the dock of the Old Bailey for the start of his sentencing.

Prosecutor Tom Little QC will open the case, revealing more information about how Ms Everard met her death and how police tracked down the culprit.

Couzens’ lawyer Jim Sturman QC is then expected to offer mitigation on behalf of the defendant.

Two-day sentencing

Before handing down his sentence on Thursday, Lord Justice Fulford will consider a whole life order, which could mean Couzens may never be released from prison.

Speaking outside the Old Bailey in July, Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said she was “very sorry” for the loss, pain and suffering of the Everard family.

She said: “All of us in the Met are sickened, angered and devastated by this man’s truly dreadful crimes. Everyone in policing feels betrayed.”

The police watchdog has received a string of referrals relating to the Couzens case, with 12 police officers being investigated.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it was looking at whether the Met failed to investigate two allegations of indecent exposure relating to Couzens in February, just days before the killing.

A picture of Sarah Everard sat amongst flowers left at the bandstand in Clapham Common on March 15, 2021 where hundreds of people turned out to pay tribute to the 33-year-old (image: Getty)

Kent Police are also being investigated over their response to a third allegation of indecent exposure dating back to 2015.

The case has prompted renewed concern about police recruitment checks and why Couzens continued to hold a warrant card, despite the allegations of sexual offences.

Scotland Yard has said there was no information available at the time that would have altered the vetting decision in his case.