Sept. 30 (UPI) — Wayne Couzens, a former London police officer who lured a 33-year-old woman into his vehicle and raped and killed her, was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday.
Couzens, 48, pleaded guilty to the crime in July and admitted to killing Sarah Everard during their encounter on March 3.
In handing down the sentence Thursday, Judge Adrian Fulford condemned Couzens for shattering the community’s sense of safety and abusing his authority and the COVID-19 pandemic to prey on Everard, who was walking home in south London when she encountered him.
“You have irretrievably damaged the lives of Sarah Everard’s family and friends,” Fulford said in a lengthy statement. “You have eroded the confidence that the public are entitled to have in the police forces of England and Wales.
“It is critical that every subject in this country can trust police officers when they encounter them and submit to their authority, which they are entitled to believe is being exercised in good faith.”
Floral tributes in memory of Sarah Everard are seen in London, Britain, on March 16. File Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE
During a presentencing hearing on Wednesday, the court heard more details of Everard’s death. Prosecutors said Couzens used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant card to persuade Everard that she’d violated a COVID-19 restriction.
Once she was inside his vehicle, Everard was handcuffed, sexually assaulted and strangled with Couzens’ police belt. He then set fire to her body.
“You have very considerably added to the sense of insecurity that many have living in our cities, perhaps particularly women, when traveling by themselves and especially at night,” Fulford added.
“During the period before your arrest, there was never a moment when you gave the slightest indication of regret, following perhaps the realization of the enormity of the dreadful crimes you had committed.”
Everard’s death spurred concerns for the safety of women throughout Britain and led to calls by some groups for police reform and other increased protections for women.