EXCLUSIVE: Sarah Everard’s police officer killer Wayne Couzens was given more than £20,000 of taxpayers’ money for barrister to argue that he should not die in prison
The depraved Met Police officer who kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard was handed over £20,000 to try and avoid a sentence to die in prison.
Wayne Couzens, 48, who is now sacked from the force, got the huge sum to fund his defence over the appalling crimes.
Couzens – who owns a £225,000 home – admitted his offences and the legal aid paid for him to have well-respected silk Jim Sturman QC mitigating his case at his sentencing.
The amount may come as a shock to Miss Everard’s family, who were left devastated by the former Diplomatic Protection Officer’s crimes.
Legal aid is means-tested so it is not clear where Couzens’ own money has gone.
He was still being paid his £33,000 police salary due to employment rules until he pleaded guilty to offences in July this year.
The Centre for Crime Prevention research director David Spencer was appalled when MailOnline revealed the cost to him.
He said: ‘Wayne Couzens admitted to a grotesque crime and was quite rightly jailed for life for it. As a serving police office, he earned a good salary and it is wholly wrong that he should be able to claim thousands of pounds of taxpayers money in a doomed attempt to reduce his sentence.
‘This is the latest in a long-line of example of legal aid being misused to try and help convicted criminals stay out of jail.
‘This is not what the system was designed for and not what taxpayers expect it to be used for. We have been assured a review of legal aid is underway. This case emphasises more than ever how badly reform is needed.’
Barrister Mr Sturman unsuccessfully argued at his sentencing the killer sex offender should not die in prison serving a whole-life term.
He asked the Old Bailey and Lord Justice Fulford to put a tariff on the term he gave to Couzens, but the judge disagreed.
Wayne Couzens will die in jail serving whole life sentence for killing Miss Everard in March
Couzens had well-respected silk Jim Sturman QC mitigating his case at the Old Bailey
Couzens, 48, carried out a fake Covid arrest to trap Miss Everard inside his hire car
Mr Sturman insisted: ‘A 35-year tariff is likely that the defendant will end up serving his whole life in prison anyway.
‘The majority of cases where whole life sentences have been imposed have been multiple killings or there have been a second conviction, child killings or politically motivated.’
MailOnline can reveal Couzens’s £20,122.75 of legal aid funded a solicitor when he was brought to London after his arrest to be questioned.
But the majority – £17,136 – went on barrister costs including at his sentencing, while £2,692.74 went on disbursements.
Costs are expected to rise even further as Couzens has lodged an appeal against his whole life tariff.
A Court of Appeal official said in October: ‘An application (for permission to mount an appeal against sentence) has been lodged.’
Quizzed by police, Couzens (pictured in handcuffs) lied that he had been ‘leant on’ by an Eastern European gang who threatened to harm his family if he did not agree to pick up a woman
Couzens, 48, was given a whole life sentence for kidnap, rape and murder of Miss Everard
‘Nothing can bring her back – but knowing he will be imprisoned forever brings some relief’: Sarah Everard’s family reaction to Couzens’ whole life term
‘We are very pleased that Wayne Couzens has received a full life sentence and will spend the rest of his life in jail. Nothing can make things better, nothing can bring Sarah back, but knowing he will be imprisoned forever brings some relief.
‘Sarah lost her life needlessly and cruelly and all the years of life she had yet to enjoy were stolen from her. Wayne Couzens held a position of trust as a police officer and we are outraged and sickened that he abused this trust in order to lure Sarah to her death. The world is a safer place with him imprisoned.
‘It is almost seven months since Sarah died and the pain of losing her is overwhelming. We miss her all the time. She was a beautiful young woman in looks and character and our lives are the poorer without her. We remember all the lovely things about Sarah – her compassion and kindness, her intelligence, her strong social conscience. But we especially like to remember her laughing and dancing and enjoying life. We hold her safe in our hearts.
‘We are immensely grateful to the police and legal team who worked on Sarah’s case. We cannot thank them enough for their meticulous and painstaking work and for their constant support. We also send our heartfelt thanks to our family and friends for comforting us through this terrible time.’
Couzens used Covid powers to conduct a fake arrest of 33-year-old marketing executive Miss Everard as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham in March.
He went on to commit crimes so horrific they shocked the nation and undermined confidence in the police over the next few hours.
Couzens used his warrant card and handcuffs to carry out the crime and had been planning for at least a month before the abduction on March 3.
His sentence in September was the first time a whole-life term was imposed for a single murder of an adult which was not committed in the course of a terror attack.
A slew of claims have come to light about Couzens since he was jailed for his life with no chance of parole after he kidnapped, raped and murdered Miss Everard.
He is known to have committed an indecent exposure, driving round naked from the waist down in his car, when he served with them in 2015.
Couzens has also been identified as being responsible for carrying out the same offence at a McDonald’s restaurant days before he targeted Miss Everard.
On March 3, he staged a fake Covid arrest, handcuffed her and put her in his car before driving 80 miles to Kent where he raped and murdered her. Days later, he burned her body and left it in woods near land he owned.
The Met has faced a wave of criticism over missed opportunities to expose Couzens as a sexual predator before he went on to murder Miss Everard.
It emerged the 48-year-old was known as ‘the rapist’ by staff at the Civil Nuclear Constabulary because he made female colleagues feel so uncomfortable.
He had been accused of indecent exposure in Kent in 2015 and in London in the days before Ms Everard’s murder, but was allowed to continue working.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said: ‘Anyone facing a crown court trial is eligible for legal aid, subject to a strict means test.
‘Depending on their means, applicants for criminal aid can be required to pay contributions up to the entire cost of the defence.’