The safety of women travelling alone at night has become an urgent political issue following the brutal murder of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive who was snatched at random off the streets in south London, bundled into a hired car, raped and strangled before her badly charred body was dumped in a builder’s rubble bag in Kent.
On Friday, a 48-year-old man, Wayne Couzens, pleaded guilty to her murder at the Central Criminal Court in London. On June 8, he had pleaded guilty to Sarah’s kidnap and rape on March 3, 2021, and also admitted responsibility for her death.
What makes Sarah’s murder particularly horrifying is that Couzens is a senior, armed police officer, a member of Scotland Yard’s elite Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, whose job was to protect the US embassy as well as the royal family. He had previously guarded Britain’s nuclear plants.
Scotland Yard police officer Wayne Coutzens
Jim Sturman QC, defending, said: “His pleas today represents a truly guilty plea and remorse for what he did and, as he put it to us this morning, he will bear the burden for the rest of his life — his words: ‘as I deserve’.”
He will be sentenced on September 29, with the judge, Lord Justice Fulford, warning he was considering the possibility of a whole life tariff —meaning Couzens will never be released from prison.
Outwardly, Couzens, who has a son and a daughter, aged 11 and nine, with his Ukrainian-born wife, Elena, appeared to be a devoted family man but there was a hidden darker side to his character.
He was vetted before he joined the police and also when he transferred to the Metropolitan Police but on at least two occasions, disturbing aspects in his character were not detected.
In Dover in 2015, he was spotted driving naked from the waist down. On February 28, 2021 — just three days before he kidnapped Sarah — he twice exposed himself indecently at a McDonald’s drive-through restaurant in London. He was questioned by police but no further action was taken.