Moment killer cop stopped Sarah Everard on street: Chilling dashcam video shows Wayne Couzens with murder victim in Clapham… as he used Covid laws as ploy to ‘arrest’ and force her into car
This is the chilling moment killer cop Wayne Couzens stopped Sarah Everard on the street as he used Covid laws as a ploy to ‘arrest’ the marketing executive and force her into his rental car.
Footage taken from a passing dashcam shows the 33-year-old stood on a pavement on Poynders Road in Clapham as Couzens, who was wearing handcuffs on his police belt, speaks to her.
Earlier, he had spent two hours driving through central and south London – prowling Kensington, Lavender Hill and Earls Court for a lone young woman to abduct – before stalking Miss Everard and stopping next to her.
The twisted Met Protection Officer can be seen producing his warrant card as he claimed Miss Everard had breached Covid restrictions.
Couzens then cuffed her hands behind her back, leaving her incapable of undoing the seatbelt he strapped around her after ordering her into the back of his rental car.
As the depraved killer watched in the Old Bailey with his head bowed, Miss Everard’s family heard in horrific detail how the Miss spent her final hours before the serving Metropolitan Police officer raped and murdered her, and then burned her body in a pre-meditated attack that was weeks in the planning.
It coincided with a string of increasingly sick behaviour which saw the married father-of-two flashing two women in McDonald’s across two separate incidents.
Witnesses later described how Miss Everard – who had spent the evening at a friend’s house sharing a bottle of wine – appeared ‘compliant’ with her ‘head down’ as the ‘confident-looking’ officer made what seemed to be a late-night arrest at the height of lockdown in March.
Couzens, who had lied to his family that he was working a night shift that evening, then Miss Everard 80 miles to a remote stretch of road in his home county of Kent. It was here that he forcibly moved her into his own Seat vehicle.
Prosecutor Tom Little QC said: ‘She must have realised her fate.’
Footage the 33-year-old stood on the pavement with Couzens moments before he kidnapped her
The deranged Met Protection Officer, who was wearing his police belt containing handcuffs, can be seen producing his warrant card as he claimed Miss Everard had breached Covid restrictions
CCTV footage of Miss Everard captured earlier on the night she was kidnapped in March, sparking a nationwide hunt
Wayne Couzens (left, in his uniform with his police belt circled); and right, in a court sketch) kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard in depraved crime after he had finished his shift
Miss Everard’s disappearance sparked a huge manhunt and led to an outpouring of anger about the safety of women on the streets
Miss Everard’s devastated family listened from the public gallery as the Old Bailey heard harrowing details of how Couzens took her to a rural area and raped her, before later being seen buying Lucozade and other drinks from BP station with her body in boot, after she was believed to have been murdered.
Distressing details of the timeline suggest Miss Everard could have been alive for more than four hours in the back of Couzens’ car. She was snatched off the street by 9.30pm and when the killer pulled into the garage at 2.30am, Sarah is thought to have been in his boot, already dead.
The court heard he confessed to a psychiatrist that he had strangled Miss Everard with his belt, and the prosecution said her injuries were consistent with ones that would have been caused by his police belt.
Couzens – who had prepared for the abduction by buying a rental car and a sheet of film from Amazon – hid her body inside a fridge in a patch of rubbish-strewn woodland before torching it.
The father-of-two then took his wife and children on a family trip to those same woods just days later and allowed the youngsters to play near a pond where he had dumped her remains, the prosecution said.
Quizzed by police, he 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 and hand her over to the occupants of a van near Maidstone.
Taken to Wandsworth Police Station, he repeatedly tried to self-harm by banging his head on a sink and running into a wall, and was put under constant watch before appearing in court.
Today, Miss Everard’s family and friends gave victim impact statements to the Old Bailey. Her father, Jeremy Everard, demanded Couzens look at him while he was giving his testimony.
The Old Bailey heard horrific details of the serving police officer’s deceit and Sarah’s final hours before she was raped, murdered and burned in a pre-meditated attack that was weeks in the planning:
- Prosecution say five words summarise what PC Wayne Couzens did to Sarah Everard: ‘Deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation, fire’;
- Friends in Deal said Couzens was regularly seen wearing his police belt with handcuffs and pepper spray, when not on duty, and he lied that he was an undercover police officer;
- In December 2020 he joined Match.com and said he had no wife and children. He also signed up to an escort agency;
- In January 2021, Couzens worked on COVID patrols and ‘used this knowledge’ to kidnap his victim, who he stopped after doing laps of west and south-west London on the night of March 3, 2021;
- On February 10 he bought a ‘police standard issue handcuff key with double locking pin’ from Amazon, which he used on his police-issue cuffs to detain Sarah Everard and force her into his hire car;
- On February 28, Couzens booked a hire car online from Enterprise and ordered a 100m roll of carpet protector film from Amazon, used to line the boot where he eventually kept Sarah’s body;
- He had told his wife that he was working a night shift when he grabbed Sarah – in fact he was off duty and cruising the streets looking for a victim;
- A couple driving past witnessed the kidnapping. Couzens using his warrant card and handcuffs to make a false arrest. They believed she had ‘done something wrong’ so didn’t intervene;
- A former boyfriend said Sarah was ‘extremely intelligent, savvy and streetwise’ and would never get into a stranger’s vehicle ‘unless by force or by manipulation’, which is exactly what Couzens did;
- Sarah was driven 80 miles to the Kent coast, where she was raped and murdered after a five-hour ordeal;
- In 2019 Wayne Couzens bought plot of woodland in Hoads Wood near Ashford. He bragged it was ‘perfect for day trips’ – but it’s where he burned Sarah’s body and dumped it in bags in shallow water;
- Couzens took his family on a trip to the woods where he burned Miss Everard’s body – allowing his children to play near where it was dumped;
- Phoned vet to arrange for an appointment to see his dog and handed in his Met Police firearms licence;
- Lied about being forced to ‘pick up a girl’ by an Eastern European gang who threatened his family;
- Admits to killing her with his belt – with prosecution saying injuries were consistent with his police belt;
- Couzens repeatedly self-harmed in his cell, as police divers found Miss Everard’s phone in the River Stour;
- Miss Everard’s father demanded killer ‘look me in the face’, mother said she was ‘haunted’ by murder and sister called Couzens ‘a monster’;
- Court also heard how Couzens was ‘attracted to brutal sexual pornography’
Susan Everard (right), Miss Everard’s mother, reading a victim impact statement as Couzens sits in the dock
Ms Everard’s father Jeremy ordered Couzens to look at him as he pointed at him and told him ‘I can never forgive you’
Police search woodland near to where Miss Everard’s body was found. Couzens burned her body and dumped it in a pond
Fake arrest ‘for breaking lockdown rules’ used to kidnap Miss Everard as she walked home from a friend’s house
Wayne Couzens accused Sarah Everard of breaking lockdown rules to make a ‘fake arrest’, the Old Bailey heard today.
The policeman used his handcuffs and warrant card to snatch Miss Everard as she walked home from visiting a friend in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.
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 before setting fire to her body.
A week after she disappeared, Miss Everard’s remains were found in a woodland stream in Ashford, Kent, just yards from land owned by Couzens.
How events in the Sarah Everard case unfolded
- 2015: Kent Police allegedly fail to investigate an indecent exposure incident linked to Wayne Couzens.
- September 2018: Couzens transfers to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC).
- 2019: Couzens and his wife buy a small area of woodland off Fridd Lane in Ashford, Kent.
- February 2019: The Pc joins a response team covering the Bromley area of south London, having initially served in a Safer Neighbourhood Team.
- February 2020: He moves to the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command to patrol diplomatic premises, mainly embassies.
- February 2021: The 48-year-old is linked to two allegations of indecent exposure in London, which it is claimed Scotland Yard failed to investigate.
- February 28: Couzens books a white Vauxhall Astra from a car hire firm in Dover, Kent, using his personal details and bank card. He also purchases a roll of self-adhesive film advertised as a carpet protector on Amazon.
- March 2: 7pm – Couzens starts a 12-hour shift at his base in West Brompton, west London.
- March 3: On the day of her disappearance, Sarah Everard visits a friend in the Clapham Junction area and uses her bank card to buy a bottle of wine in Sainsbury’s in Brixton Hill, south London, on her way.
- 4.45pm – Couzens collects the hire car.
- 9pm – Ms Everard leaves to walk home, some 2.5 miles away.
- 9.13pm – She calls her boyfriend for a little over 14 minutes.
- 9.15pm – Ms Everard is captured alone on CCTV at the junction of Bowood Road and the South Circular.
- 9.28pm – The next sighting is on Cavendish Road and she is still alone.
- 9.32pm – Ms Everard is caught on the camera on a marked police car.
- 9.35pm – A bus camera captures two figures on Poynders Road standing beside a white Vauxhall Astra parked on the pavement with hazard lights flashing.
- 9.38pm – Another bus camera captures the same vehicle with the two front car doors open.
- – March 4: 1am – Having travelled out of London, the car is in the Tilmanstone area of Kent.
- 8.30am – Couzens returns the hire car used in the abduction.
- 8.10pm – Ms Everard is reported missing by her boyfriend, Josh Lowth.
- March 5: The case is escalated and the Specialist Crime Unit becomes involved. Couzens, who is due to be off until March 8, reports to work that he is suffering with stress.
- 2pm – He buys two green rubble bags for £9.94 at B&Q in Dover.
- March 6: Couzens emails his supervisor that he no longer wants to carry a firearm. He orders a tarpaulin and a bungee cargo net on Amazon which are shipped to him the next day.
- March 8: The officer reports in sick on the day he is due to return to work.
- March 9: 7.11pm – Couzens’ phone is wiped of all data.
- 7.50pm – Couzens is arrested at his home in Deal, Kent. In a brief interview, he tells a story about being threatened by an Eastern European gang.
- March 10: At around 4.45pm, a body is discovered in a wooded area in Ashford, Kent, and later formally identified by dental records. It is around 100 metres from land owned by Couzens.
- March 11: Couzens answers “no comment” in formal interviews.
- March 12: 8.45pm: Couzens is charged.
- July 9: Couzens pleads guilty to murder when he appears at the Old Bailey by video link from Belmarsh high security jail.
- September 29: Couzens faces a possible whole life order when he is sentenced.
CCTV footage showed Couzens raising his left arm holding a warrant card before handcuffing Miss Everard and putting her into the hire car.
A passenger in a passing car witnessed the kidnapping but mistook it for an arrest by an undercover officer, the court heard.
A woman on the pavement appeared to have her left arm behind her back and was in the process of ‘giving her other arm behind her back’ as a man in dark clothing handcuffed her, according to the witness.
Mr Little said: ‘The immediate impression the passenger formed was that she was witnessing an undercover police officer arresting a woman, whom she assumed ‘must have done something wrong’.
‘They were in fact witnessing the kidnapping of Sarah Everard. She was detained by fraud. The defendant using his warrant card and handcuffs as well as his other police issue equipment to affect a false arrest.’
Below is a summary of today’s hearing in the order it was heard in court:
Victim of ‘deception, rape, strangulation and fire’
Sarah Everard was the victim of ‘deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation, fire’, the Old Bailey heard at the start of her murderer’s sentencing.
Wayne Couzens was a serving PC with the Metropolitan Police when he snatched Miss Everard as she walked home in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.
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, Miss Everard’s body was found in a woodland stream in Ashford, Kent, just metres from land owned by Couzens.
Prosecutor Tom Little QC said: ‘The defendant’s plot of land is very close to, and in the same woods, that he was to burn Sarah Everard’s body after he had murdered her.
‘He then moved her body in green bags that he had purchased specifically for that task to a pond deeper into the woods but which was only about 130 metres from his plot.’
Opening the facts, Mr Little said the disappearance of Miss Everard was one of the most widely publicised missing person investigations the country has ever seen.
After her body was discovered in woodland, it became summarised by the hashtag ‘she was just walking home’, he said.
But that did not completely describe what happened to Miss Everard, the court heard.
Mr Little said: ‘Whilst it is impossible to summarise what the defendant did to Sarah Everard in just five words, if it had to be done then it would be more appropriate to do so as deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation, fire.’
Miss Everard: ‘Extremely intelligent, savvy and streetwise’
Miss Everard was described by a former long-term boyfriend as ‘extremely intelligent, savvy and streetwise’ and ‘not a gullible person’, the Old Bailey heard.
He said he could not envisage her getting into a car with someone she did not know ‘unless by force or manipulation’, according to Mr Little.
He said Couzens worked on Covid patrols in late January this year, enforcing coronavirus regulations, so would have known what language to use to those who may have breached them.
Couzens was said to be wearing his police belt with handcuffs and a rectangular black pouch, similar to a pepper spray holder, when he kidnapped Miss Everard.
Mr Little said he snatched Miss Everard in a ‘false arrest’, by ‘handcuffing her and showing his warrant card’.
The prosecutor said he must have taken her mobile phone from her and removed the sim card, which he tried to destroy.
Ahead of the start of the two-day hearing, Scotland Yard released a statement which read: ‘We are sickened, angered and devastated by this man’s crimes which betray everything we stand for.
‘Our thoughts are with Sarah’s family and her many friends. It is not possible for us to imagine what they are going through.
‘We recognise his actions raise many questions and concerns but we will not be commenting further until the hearing is complete.’
Sarah Everard’s boyfriend Josh Lowth arrives for the sentencing of her killer, policeman Wayne Couzens at the Old Bailey this morning
Killer was in debt for £29,000, rowed with the Met over pay, had a fake Match.com profile, and used escorts
Couzens was in debt to the tune of £29,000 at the time of the killing, the Old Bailey heard.
Mr Little said: ‘In relation to finances at the material time his bank accounts were generally overdrawn only being brought into credit for short periods either by wages paid in and/or the use of short term payday loans.
‘He had a total debt of just under £29,000 with a number of financial institutions, which were the subject of a debt management plan agreed in Oct 2020 with a debt management company, Payplan, with agreed monthly repayments of £235.
‘I can never hold her again’: Sarah’s mother Susan says she now hugs daughter’s dressing gown
Susan Everard, mother of Sarah Everard
Sarah Everard, 14th June 1987 to March 2021
Susan Everard, Sarah’s mother
‘Sarah is gone and I am broken hearted. She was my precious little girl, our youngest child. The feeling of loss is so great it is visceral. And with the sorrow come waves of panic at not being able to see her again. I can never talk to her, never hold her again, and never more be a part of her life. We have kept her dressing gown – it still smells of her and I hug that instead of her.
‘Sarah died in horrendous circumstances. I am tormented at the thought of what she endured. I play it out in my mind. I go through the terrible sequence of events. I wonder when she realized she was in mortal danger; I wonder what her murderer said to her. When he strangled her, for how long was she conscious, knowing she would die? It is torture to think of it. Sarah was handcuffed, unable to defend herself and there was no one to rescue her. She spent her last hours on this earth with the very worst of humanity. She lost her life because Wayne Couzens wanted to satisfy his perverted desires. It is a ridiculous reason, it is nonsensical; how could he value a human life so cheaply? I cannot comprehend it. I am incandescent with rage at the thought of it. He treated my daughter as if she was nothing and disposed of her as if she was rubbish.
‘If Sarah had died because of an illness, she would have been cared for. We could have looked after her and been with her. If she had died because of an accident, people would have tried to help – there would have been kindness. But there is no comfort to be had, there is no consoling thought in the way Sarah died. In her last hours she was faced with brutality and terror, alone with someone intent on doing her harm. The thought of it is unbearable. I am haunted by the horror of it.
‘When Sarah went missing we suffered days of agony, not knowing where she was or what had happened to her. Then, when Sarah’s burnt remains were found, we spent two terrible days waiting for tests to show how she had died, fearing she had been set alight before she was dead – the thought was appalling.
‘Burning her body was the final insult, it meant we could never again see her sweet face and never say goodbye.
‘Our lives will never be the same. We should be a family of five, but now we are four. Her death leaves a yawning chasm in our lives that cannot be filled. I yearn for her. I remember all the lovely things about her: she was caring, she was funny. She was clever, but she was good at practical things too. She was a beautiful dancer. She was a wonderful daughter. She was always there to listen, to advise, or simply to share with the minutiae of the day. And she was also a strongly principled young woman who knew right from wrong and who lived by those values. She was a good person. She had purpose to her life.
‘My outlook on life has changed since Sarah died: I am more cautious; I worry more about our other children. I crave the familiarity and security of home; the wider world has lost its appeal. It is too painful to contemplate a future without Sarah, so I just live in the here and now. I think of Sarah all the time, but the mornings and evenings are particularly painful. In the morning I wake up to the awful reality that Sarah is gone. In the evenings, at the time she was abducted, I let out a silent scream: Don’t get in the car, Sarah. Don’t believe him. Run!
‘I am repulsed by the thought of Wayne Couzens and what he did to Sarah. I am outraged that he masqueraded as a policeman in order to get what he wanted. Sarah wanted to get married and have children, now all that has gone. He took her life and stole her future and we will never have the joy of sharing that future with her. Each day dawns and I think, Sarah should be here, leading her life and embracing new experiences. She had so many years ahead of her.
‘I don’t know how anyone could be so cruel as to take my daughter’s life. What I do know is that Sarah will never be forgotten and is remembered with boundless love.
‘I cling on to memories of Sarah, I hold them tight to keep them safe. The other night, I dreamt that Sarah appeared at home. In my dream I held her and could feel her physically. Jeremy was there, we were comforting her, saying ‘it’s alright Sarah, it’s alright’. I would give anything to hold her once more; I hope I dream that dream again.’
‘As at March 2021, the defendant also had a credit card account with NatWest which was in debt (£3460.70); and a PayPal credit card account which was also in debt (£1580.27); both of which had debt payment plans in place to make minimum monthly payments.’
Couzens was involved in a dispute with the Met over his pay,’ Mr Little said, adding: ‘He talked freely to colleagues about this, and the fact that he was hoping to obtain legal assistance in the near future. He had not discussed any other financial problems with colleagues.
‘Most of his colleagues had the impression that he was a ”family man’.’
The court also heard how Couzens had been paying for sex with escorts and had a Match.com profile under a fake name.
Mr Little said: ‘In early February 2021, the defendant was in contact with an escort with username ”escourtbabygirl” through the Adult Work Escort Service.’
Later in today’s hearing, Lord Justice Fulford asked the Crown if they were planning on bringing up evidence he had seen in written submissions that colleagues said Couzens was partial to ‘brutal sexual pornography’.
Mr Little said it had been deliberately omitted. Couzens’ lawyer Jim Sturman QC, said it was from 2002 and was irrelevant.
Couzens bought a rubbish-strewn plot of woodland where he burned Sarah’s body
The Old Bailey heard that Couzens and his wife had bought a plot of woodland by Ashford, Kent.
Mr Little said: ‘The defendant’s plot of land is very close to, and in the same woods, that he was to burn Sarah Everard’s body after he had murdered her.
‘He then moved her body in green bags that he had purchased specifically for that task to a pond deeper into the woods but which was only about 130 metres from his plot,’ said Mr Little.
PC worked on ‘Covid patrols’ and ‘knew the language used to tackle offenders’
In January this year Couzens was working in ‘Covid patrols’ and was aware of coronavirus regulations and the language used on those who may have breached them, the Old Bailey heard.
Mr Little said that he had ‘arrested’ and handcuffed Miss Everard for a breach before raping and murdering her.
He continued: ‘These were uniform Covid patrols in which the Covid regulations were enforced. The defendant undertook a couple of such shifts.
‘He was therefore aware of the regulations and what language to use to those who may or may not have breached them, if speaking to them. He was to use that knowledge to kidnap Sarah Everard.’
Policeman carried handcuffs with him while not on duty
Members of the public had noticed Couzens wearing his police belt when not on duty, with a pair of handcuffs and black pepper spray holder.
‘This is the type of equipment that it can be inferred that the defendant was wearing when he kidnapped Sarah Everard,’ said Mr Little.
He continued: ‘It was not unusual for officers on PaDP to take personal protective and other equipment (including body armour and handcuffs) home with them from the Lillie Road base – they were required to undertake frequent training, at a number of different locations, to which they would travel directly.
‘For convenience, they would often take home the kit needed.
‘Two members of the public had independently noticed seeing the defendant when he was not on duty wearing his Police belt with handcuffs and a rectangular black pouch (similar to a pepper spray holder) attached to it (whilst out in Deal walking his dog; and when attending a local computer hardware repair shop in the town).
‘This is the type of equipment that it can be inferred that the defendant was wearing when he kidnapped Sarah Everard.
‘It is instructive that in relation to the incident in the repair shop that when the owner asked the defendant jokingly if he was ‘into kinky stuff’ when he referred to the handcuffs that were visible on the defendant’s belt. The defendant said ‘I am an undercover police officer’.
‘As he said that the defendant chuckled but then opened his jacket a little more to reveal his Police issue kit.’
A family handout of Miss Everard that was released through the Crown Prosecution Service this afternoon
Murderer’s final shift before the murder – guarding the American Embassy
Couzens worked his last shift from 7pm on March 2 to 7am the next day. It was a posting at the American Embassy.
Mr Little said: ‘That evening the defendant discussed the possibility of leaving the Metropolitan Police because of the pay dispute and depending on the outcome he might go off sick with stress.
‘This was meant to be the start of his period of five rest days, from Wednesday Mar 3 at 7am to Mar 8 at 7am, when he was due to return to Lillie Road for a training day.’
The next day he had a sick day but lied to his family, saying he was working another night shift.
At this point his wife sent a message to his mother saying: ‘Wayne had a call for overtime shift tonight. I wondering if you could pick children from school tomorrow, would you?’.
Couzens’ journey to ‘hunt a lone young female to kidnap and rape’
After his final shift, Couzens drove back to his home in Kent in his own car, a Seat.
After leaving home, he picked up a Vauxhall Crossland hire car that he had booked on February 28.
‘Take off your mask and look at me: Sarah’s father Jeremy says the murder is ‘in my mind all the time’
Jeremy Everard, father of Sarah Everard
Sarah Everard, 14th June 1987 to March 2021
Sarah’s father Jeremy Everard
‘The impact of what you have done will never end. The horrendous murder of my daughter, Sarah, is in my mind all the time and will be for the rest of my life.
‘A father wants to look after his children and fix everything and you have deliberately and with pre- meditation stopped my ability to do that.
‘Sarah was handcuffed and unable to defend herself. This preys on my mind all the time. I can never forgive you for what you have done, for taking Sarah away from us.
‘You burnt our daughter’s body – you further tortured us – so that we could not see her again. We did not know whether you had burnt her alive or dead. You stopped us seeing Sarah for one last time and stopped me from giving my daughter one last kiss goodbye.
‘Her body fell apart when she was moved. Her brain and neck bones were removed for months by the pathologist and her body was difficult to preserve so we had to use the services of a specialist embalmer to enable a dignified burial.
‘All my family want is Sarah back with us. No punishment that you receive will ever compare to the pain and torture that you have inflicted on us.
‘You murdered our daughter and forever broke the hearts of her mother, father, brother, sister, family and her friends.
‘Sarah had so much to look forward to and because of YOU this is now gone forever. She was saving to buy a house and looking forward to marriage and children. We were looking forward to having grandchildren. We loved being a part of Sarah’s world and expected her to have a full and happy life. The closest we can get to her now is to visit her grave every day.’
Around this time, he had ordered a 100m roll of carpet protector film from Amazon, used to line the boot where he eventually kept Miss Everard’s body
Describing his appearance, Mr Little said: ‘The defendant was wearing a black puffa-style jacket with a Barbour logo on the breast pocket, a dark blue hooded jumper with a yellow lining in the hood, a dark baseball cap with a white Polo logo on the front, light-grey trousers and black and white trainers.’
During his journey back to London, Couzens was captured on CCTV purchasing a pack of 14 hair bands at a Tesco in Kensington, which was a ‘significant’ purchase and part of his plans.
He proceeded to drive the car around Earls Court and other parts of central and south London, crossing the river twice.
‘We say circular route taken by the defendant as well as the areas in which he was driving are consistent with the defendant looking for, indeed hunting for a lone young female to kidnap and rape, which is precisely what he did,’ Mr Little said.
Miss Everard’s movements on the night she was abducted and the final phone call to her boyfriend
Miss Everard had worked the day of March 3 at home, and planned to go to a friend’s house near Clapham Junction to have dinner.
After leaving her friend’s house, Miss Everard made a 14-minute call to her boyfriend, sounding ‘in good spirits’ and ‘not intoxicated.’
They made plans to meet later that week and ended the conversation normally, with Miss Everard intending to walk home through south London, something she did routinely.
‘That call that the last that her family, friends and colleagues heard from her,’ said the prosecutor.
After failing to text a friend she was home safe and missing a work meeting the following day, Miss Everard’s loved ones frantically attempted to find her and her boyfriend reported her missing.
‘Her boyfriend went round to her flat but got no answer,’ Mr Little said. ‘He started to make enquiries with the hospitals and emergency services, and reported Sarah as missing to the police.
‘He also made enquiries with other friends and family, but nobody had heard from her all day.’
Missed chance to stop horror as couple witness kidnapping – but are reassured he was an undercover police officer
The kidnap happened on Poynders Road (A205), with Couzens travelling in the same direction as Miss Everard.
In chilling CCTV footage, Couzens is seen driving behind Miss Everard before stepping out of the car and standing a few feet apart from her.
‘We can see the left hand of the defendant come towards Sarah Everard as though he was showing her something, we say the warrant card, and afterwards he must have handcuffed her,’ said Mr Little.
A couple driving past the scene saw Couzens in the process of handcuffing Miss Everard, before leading her towards the hire vehicle.
‘The immediate impression the passenger formed was that she was witnessing an undercover police officer arresting a woman, whom she assumed ‘must have done something wrong’,’ said Mr Little
‘They were witnessing the kidnapping of Sarah Everard.
‘She was detained by fraud. The defendant using his warrant card and handcuffs as well as his other police issue equipment to effect a false arrest.
‘Having handcuffed her to the rear she would not have been able to undo the seatbelt that the defendant must have placed over her.
‘That was the start of her lengthy ordeal including an 80 mile journey whilst detained which was to lead first to her rape and then her murder.
‘At some point fairly soon after driving from the pavement onto the South Circular and having not gone to a police station for example, Sarah Everard must have realised her fate.’
A number of areas were searched in Clapham as police tried to look for missing Sarah before the hunt moved to Kent
‘I hate that I wasn’t there to save her’, says Sarah Everard’s sister Katie
Katie Everard, sister of Sarah Everard
Victim personal statement
Katie Everard, sister of Sarah
‘You treated Sarah as if she was nothing. Placed more emphasis on satisfying your sick disgusting perversions than on a life. Her life. You disposed of my sister’s body like it was rubbish. Fly-tipped her like she meant nothing. She meant everything. We couldn’t even see her, she was so badly burnt. Her brain was removed from her skull to check for trauma and cause of death – I still don’t know if they put her brain back in her head or whether it is lying next to her body in her coffin.
‘Shards of her kneecap were returned to us to be placed with her body – shards that you knocked when moving her burnt body from the fridge you had used to hide her and conceal the fire. We are still missing her hyoid bone from her throat, which is being checked to see the force you used to strangle her, to determine how long she may have survived. We know it was broken. Her burnt body still had her necklace and one earring in her ear – the other had fallen from her ear because it had burnt off.
‘You hear from the police that it takes around 2 minutes to strangle someone. And around 8- 10 seconds for them to lose consciousness. At first there is a sense of relief at hearing that your sister might only have been aware of what was happening for 8-10 seconds. But have you put your hands around your neck and tried pushing hard? 8-10 seconds now seems a long time.
‘You used your warrant card to trick my sister into your car. She sat in a car handcuffed for hours. What could she have thought she had done wrong? What lies did you tell her? When did she realise that she wasn’t going to survive the night?
‘I’m constantly replaying in my head – did you rape her, then kill her? Did you kill her while raping her? You get small nuggets of information and the thought process starts again. Your semen and blood were found in your car. So this suggests you raped her in the car. You find out you may have used a belt to strangle her. New horrendous images forming.
‘You stopped to get a Lucozade and water at a petrol station. Was she still alive at this point? Bound in your car? I am horrified by your ability to flit between what you did and normal everyday actions. Your casual demeanour on CCTV was very upsetting and shocking to see.
‘We had to go to the flat and pack up Sarah’s whole life – washing left hanging up, half sewn outfits, deliveries waiting to be returned, packages waiting at the door ready to be opened. All signs of a life waiting to be lived – chores to be done, ready for her to return and continue when she got home. But she never got home because a predator – you – was on the loose. Prowling the streets for hours looking for his prey.
‘You can’t comprehend what you are being told when it happened because it is so horrific. Some sort of sick waking nightmare. You can’t imagine anyone could do such a thing.
‘You are waiting to hear anything from the police. Every bit you get is different. You hear her body has been found. Then you find out she has been burnt. So badly burnt you can’t see her. Can’t see her again to say goodbye. The first thought you have in your head after despair and shock is – was she dead before you burnt her? Imagine that even having to be a thought. You find out no soot was found in her lungs which suggests she was burnt after you murdered her. Imagine being relieved to hear your sister was dead before she was burnt.
‘I replay it continuously round in my head. What you may have said to her, what she may have said back, when she realised she was in grave danger and was not going to survive. Hoping my sister was unconscious and drugged, but we know that was not the case – no drugs found in her body, no trauma to the head. Burst blood vessels in her brain from your strangulation. Which meant she was conscious when you were doing these unfathomable things to her. My only hope is that she was in a state of shock and that she wasn’t aware of the disgusting things being done to her by a monster. When you forced yourself upon and raped her. When you put your hands around her neck and strangled her.
‘It disgusts me that you were the last person to touch her perfect body and violate her in the way you did. The last person to see her alive and speak to her. How scared she must have been. The last moments of her life not with loved ones, but frightened and fighting for her life. I hate to think of her being so scared and alone and that in her last moments she had no one with her. No kindness. I hate that I wasn’t there to save her. To stop you. I find it hard to believe she is not just living her own life and sick at the thought that her last moments on this earth alive were so horrific.
‘How dare you take her from me? Take away her hopes and dreams. Her life. Children that will never be born. Generations that will never exist. Her future no longer exists. The future I was supposed to live with my sister no longer exists. You have ruined so many lives.
‘Sarah is the very best person with so many people who love and cherish her. I want to speak to her and hug her and hear her laugh and go out for dinners and drinks and dancing. All those conversations we can never have. There were so many things I wanted to share with her – trips abroad, being each other’s bridesmaid, meeting her babies and being an
‘Aunty, growing old together and seeing who got the most wrinkles. We weren’t even halfway through our journey and you took it all away!
‘I feel like I live in a make-believe world. As if nothing is real. I have to pretend because the thought of not having Sarah forever is too hard to bear. A lifetime now seems a very long time.
‘I should never have to write a eulogy for or bury my little sister. There is no punishment that you could receive that will ever compare to the pain you have caused us. We can never get Sarah back. The last moments of Sarah’s life play on my mind constantly. I am so disgusted and appalled. It terrifies me that you have such disregard for a person’s life. You have taken from me the most precious person. And I can never get her back.’
Kidnapping took ‘just five minutes’ – as harrowing video shows Miss Everard in the back of Couzens’ car
The court heard Miss Everard’s kidnapping took less than five minutes.
Harrowing CCTV footage from a private car then showed the marketing executive in the back of Couzens car.
‘A nearside rear-facing camera shows a figure in the rear passenger seat (behind the driver),’ Mr Little said.
‘This was plainly Sarah Everard. A figure was also sitting in the driver’s seat. This was the defendant.’
Miss Everard was handcuffed at about 9.34pm, detained in Couzens’ hire car by 9.37pm and they were on their way to Kent a minute later, Mr Little said.
Couzens switches cars into car and takes Miss Everard to a rural area to rape her
The court was shown CCTV of the defendant’s hire vehicle in Dover shortly after 11.30pm as he transferred his victim to his own car, a Seat.
Couzens then drove to a remote rural area north-west of Dover which he knew well where he parked up and raped Miss Everard.
Between 1.03am and 2.43am, Couzens returned to central Dover with Miss Everard still in his Seat.
Mr Little said the CPS ‘simply can’t say whether it was approximate to the rape or in the hour or two after that’ that Miss Everard was murdered.
With victim’s body in the boot, Couzens buys a Lucozade, hot chocolate and a Bakewell tart
The court heard the prosecution could not pinpoint the exact time Miss Everard was killed.
However, Mr Little said that she must have been dead by around 2.30am when Couzens pulled into a BP service station in Dover to buy a Lucozade, apple juice, two bottles of still water and a carrier bag.
He visited Hoads Wood near Ashford twice during in the early morning, leaving just before sunrise.
The court heard he was to return to the area later the following day two more times.
At 8.15am on March 4, Couzens was captured on CCTV in a Costa Coffee shop in Dover buying a hot chocolate and bakewell tart.
He went on to return the Vauxhall hire car having driven just over 300 miles.
Couzens throws Miss Everard’s phone into the sea before returning home
Later that morning (March 4), Couzens threw Miss Everard’s mobile phone into a channel at Sandwich, only for it to be retrieved by a diver as part of a search of the waterway.
After disposing of the phone he returned home, where he stayed all day.
During the day a local dental surgery phoned to cancel an appointment for his two children. He was calm and accepting of this on the phone, Mr Little said.
At around 12.45pm, a local man was driving past Hoads Wood in Ashford where he saw a ‘strong, intense flame’ around three-foot square.
‘This is consistent with the location where the defendant burnt Miss Everard’s body, clothing and possessions using the petrol he had purchased earlier that day,’ Mr Little said.
Killer phones vet to speak about his dog before dumping Miss Everard’s body
Having burnt Miss Everard’s body, clothing and possessions inside a refrigerator, Couzens went on to call the vet about his dog.
In the call played in court, Couzens explained that his pet had ‘separation anxiety’.
He then bought builders bags at a B&Q in Dover before returning to the woods.
Mr Little said: ‘Whilst in the woods he must have moved Sarah Everard’s heavily burnt body from where he had set fire to it, to the pond where she was subsequently found.
‘He did so using the two bags that he had just purchased from B&Q.’
Couzens takes family on a trip to the woods where he burned Miss Everard’s body – allowing his children to play near where it was dumped
The court heard that on Sunday March 7, Couzens took his wife and two children on a family trip to the woods where only days before he had burned Miss Everard’s body.
En route, he withdrew cash from the same service station he had been to shortly after raping and murdering his victim.
Mr Little said: ‘It follows that the defendant took his family on a family trip to the very woods where days earlier he had left Sarah Everard’s body, then returned to burn it and then returned again to move it and hide it.’
Couzens allowed his children to play in ‘relatively close proximity to where Miss Everard’s body had been dumped in the pond’, he added.
While on his five days’ leave, Couzens had emailed his supervisor to say he felt ‘unable to carry firearms’.
The court heard this read: ‘Sgt, at this moment in time I feel unable to carry firearms. The stress of my payroll situation is causing me financial implications, I feel totally mislead and disillusioned by the way I have been recruited and the lack of measures to find a solution from HR.
‘I have been totally honest from the outset all through my application to present. I have provisionally made an appointment with my GP to seek advice. I thought I was in a good place after returning from injury however, this is not the case and I feel more of a liability due to the current situation I find myself in. I will keep you updated throughout.’
The following day – March 9 – Couzens went to Homebase to return a flat-pack trolley. A member of staff did not notice ‘anything untoward about his demeanour’ during a 10-minute exchange, Mr Little said.
Miss Everard’s family leave the Old Bailey after a previous hearing where Couzens made two guilty pleas. Her father Jeremy is seen on the left, with her sister Katie can be seen on the right.
Couzens’ lies about being forced to ‘pick up a girl’ by an Eastern European gang who threatened his family
In a video shown in court, Couzens sat on his sofa, with his hands in cuffs, as he was quizzed by police in his home.
A police officer repeatedly asked if Couzens knew where Miss Everard was, saying her ‘family and friends are worried about her’.
In a false account, Couzens described being in ‘financial s***’ and ‘leant on’ by a gang after he tried to ‘rip off’ a sex worker he had booked online.
He claimed he felt his family was under threat and he had ‘no choice’ but to agree to pick up a woman, who was handed over to the occupants of a van near Maidstone.
He told officers: ‘If I could do something to get her back this minute, I would. I’ll do it again tomorrow if it meant saving my family… these guys meant business.’
Couzens then gave police his phone, saying it would contain the numbers he had called to contact the sex worker.
But officers were unable to find any call or message records. Later, a forensic unit found Couzens had given it a factory reset before police arrived at his home.
When pressed as to where Miss Everard was, he said repeatedly that he did not know, lying that ‘if I could do something to get her back right this minute, I would’, but at the same time ‘I’ll do it again tomorrow if it meant saving my family… these guys meant business’.
There was a huge search for Sarah Everard after she went missing after visiting a friend before her remains were found in Kent
Police pick holes in Couzens’ account, before finding petrol, hairbands and latex gloves at his home
An investigation found the killer was lying, with no vehicles like the one he described as belonging to the fake gangsters being seen on CCTV.
He was taken to Wandsworth Police Station, where he refused to provide intimate samples, the court heard.
A large number of significant items were then found at his home, prosecutor Mr Little said. These included:
- A roll of adhesive film that had been ordered on February, inside a cardboard box on the floor in a bedroom;
- Beige-coloured hairbands and a penis pump from a storage unit in the bedroom;
- Police kit bag containing a ballistic vest and other items. The contents included a leather handcuff pouch, two police shoulder numbers and one Civil Nuclear Constabulary uniform badges;
- A green petrol can, identical in appearance to that purchased by Couzens on the morning of March 4;
- Two opened boxes of off-white large latex gloves, from the workshop and garage respectively;
- A pair of Quick Plasti Cuffs and pouch, found in the garage.
Miss Everard’s badly burned body is found dumped in a pond – as Couzens tells police he strangled her ‘with his police belt’
On March 10, a police search dog team scoured Hoads Wood.
Mr Little described the moment Miss Everard’s body was found partially submerged in a pond inside builders bags.
He said: ‘Several dogs picked up some scent and drew the attention of their handlers to a small pond.
‘Initially only the handles of a green builder’s bag were visible above the surface of the water.
‘Two of the dogs entered the water and indicated interest in the bag. As one of the dogs moved away, the bag appeared to come loose from the floor of the pond, floating upwards and opening up…
‘One of the officers reported that he could see what appeared to be a body in the bag.’
Miss Everard had been badly burned and was still wearing a necklace and gold-coloured ear-ring.
Couzens told a psychiatrist he strangled Miss Everard with his police belt, which tallied with the conclusions of a post-mortem examination which found she died from compression of the neck.
Two days’ later, a burnt fridge was found in the woods. Evidence suggested Miss Everard’s body was inside before being burned.
Miss Everard’s death sparked an outpouring of grief, outrage and a series of protests at the rate of violence against women
Miss Everard’s bloody is found in Couzens’ car – as killer self-harms in custody
Blood matching that of Miss Everard was found in the front passenger seat, rear seats and boot of Couzens’ Seat. There was also evidence that she had been raped her.
On March 10, the killer told a custody nurse that he ‘experiences anxiety and depression’.
After being re-arrested for Miss Everard’s murder, he deliberately hit his head on the toilet bowl in his cell, sustained a cut to his head, and was taken to St George’s Hospital.
He told a nurse he was experiencing ‘suicidal thoughts’.
When asked how he was feeling in a police interview, he said: ‘I’m in a dark place’.
When the interview resumed, he answered ‘no comment’ to all questions asked.
On Friday March 12, Couzens self-harmed again by intentionally running into the wall of his cell head first.
He then banged his head against a wall while waiting for an ambulance.
Couzens was charged with the murder and kidnap of Sarah Everard on the evening of Mar 12.
Mr Little QC told the court: ‘He remained quiet with a lowered gaze, but answered questions politely when prompted.
‘He was placed under constant watch until he first appeared in the Magistrates’ court the following morning.’
Victim’s phone is recovered by a diving team
On Thursday March 18, a police diving team found a mobile phone in the River Stour, which runs alongside Fellowship Walk in Sandwich.
The handset was forensically examined, and identified as Miss Everard’s silver Apple iPhone.
The handset did not contain a SIM card.
Police released this mugshot of murderer police officer Couzens after he admitted the horrific crime earlier this year
Everard’s mother Susan says she is ‘haunted’ by the horror of her daughter’s murder
Reading a statement at the Old Bailey, Susan Everard said: ‘Sarah died in horrendous circumstances. I am tormented at the thought of what she endured.
‘Sarah was handcuffed, unable to defend herself, and there was no one to rescue her. She spent the last hours on this earth with the very worst of humanity.
‘She lost her life because Wayne Couzens wanted to satisfy his perverted desires. It is a ridiculous reason. It is nonsensical. How could he value a human life so cheaply?
‘I am incandescent with rage at the thought of it. He treated my daughter as if she was nothing and disposed of her as if she was rubbish.’
Mrs Everard said she was ‘repulsed’ by the thought of what Couzens did.
She added: ‘I am outraged that he masqueraded as a policeman in order to get what he wanted.’
Father demands Couzens looks him straight in the eye
Jeremy Everard demanded that her daughter’s killer look at him as he delivered an emotional victim impact statement in court.
He told Couzens: ‘I can never forgive you for what you have done, for taking Sarah away from us.
‘You burnt our daughter’s body – you further tortured us – so that we could not see her again.’
Couzens appeared to shake in the dock as Mr Everard went on: ‘You murdered our daughter and forever broke the hearts of her mother, father, brother, sister, family and her friends.
‘Sarah had so much to look forward to and because of you this has now gone forever.’
Ms Everard’s sister Katie Everard describes Couzens as a ‘monster’
Weeping as she read her statement, Katie Everard said: ‘You used your warrant card to trick my sister into your car. She sat in a car handcuffed for hours.
‘What could she have thought she had done wrong? What lies did you tell her? When did she realise that she wasn’t going to survive the night?
‘My only hope is that she was in a state of shock and that she wasn’t aware of the disgusting things being done to her by a monster. When you forced yourself upon her and raped her.’