Wayne Couzens has been sentenced to a whole life order in prison for the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard.
The sentence means he will never be freed from jail for his “warped, selfish and brutal offending, which was both sexual and homicidal”.
Lord Justice Fulford sentenced Wayne Couzens at the Old Bailey at 11:30 on Thursday morning.
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.
Wayne Couzen’s murder of Sarah Everad ‘sexual and homicidal’
Sentencing Couzens, Lord Justice Fulford said the circumstances of the case are “devastating, tragic and wholly brutal”.
The judge said Ms Everard was “a wholly blameless victim” of a “grotesque” series of offences which culminated in her death and disposal of her body.
The evidence gathered against Couzens was “unanswerable” and there was “no credible innocent explanation” for it, he said.
He went on to add Couzens’ crimes were “warped, selfish and brutal offending, which was both sexual and homicidal”.
Couzens went “hunting a lone female to kidnap and rape” having planned in “unspeakably” grim detail, the judge said.
The defendant’s preparations included taking some of his police kit with him and lying to his family about working on the night of the murder, the Old Bailey heard.
The judge paid tribute to the dignity of Ms Everard’s family, whose statements in court revealed the human impact of the crime.
The judge described how Sarah was simply walking home. She was an intelligent, talented and much-loved young woman still in the early years of her life. Her ordeal was “as bleak and agonising as it is possible to imagine”.
Lord Justice Fulford said Couzens tried to “minimise his true responsibility” for what had occurred from the moment he spoke to police.
He said the defendant must have realised he “may well need to kill the woman he intended to abduct and rape” but that did not become a “definite outcome” before events began to unfold.
Wayne Couzen’s defence ‘revulsed’ by actions
Wayne Couzens’ defence barrister Jim Sturman QC to mitigated on his behalf before sentencing.
Jim Sturman QC didn’t speak long in mitigation. He didn’t have much to say.
In his words: “There is little mitigation in this case and he deserves and expects nothing else than a life sentence.”
He said of the killer: “He accepts he will receive and deserves severe punishment.
“No right-minded person… can feel anything other than revulsion for what he did.”
Sarah Everard’s kidnapping witnessed by passers-by
The court heard on Wednesday how a couple travelling home in a car witnessed the kidnapping.
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’.”
The prosecutor added: “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.”
Sarah Everad’s mum issues heartbreaking impact statement
Sarah Everard’s mum described she is “haunted” by the murder of her 33-year-old daughter.
She said: “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.”
She continued:” 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.”
Sarah Everard’s murder caused national outrage
The killing prompted national outrage and sparked protests at the rate of violence against women.
In July, Couzens pleaded guilty to Ms Everard’s murder, kidnap and rape by video link from jail.
On Wednesday, he came face to face with his victim’s family when he was brought into the dock of the Old Bailey for the start of his sentencing.
Opening the facts, prosecutor Tom Little QC said the disappearance of Ms 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 hash tag “she was just walking home”, he said.
But that did not completely describe what happened to Ms 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.”
Police statement on Sarah Everard murder
Ahead of the start of the two-day sentencing, Scotland Yard released a statement: “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.”