Sarah Everard was seized from a London street on March 3
Susan Everard said she is “haunted” by the marketing executive’s suffering in the final hours of her life when she was raped and murdered by police officer Wayne Couzens. He falsely arrested her for breaching Covid guidelines, keeping her captive using his police handcuffs before strangling her with his police belt and then burning her body.
Mrs Everard came face-to-face with Couzens when she read an emotional witness statement at the Old Bailey.
Wayne Couzens seized Everard, 33, from a London street on March 3, keeping her captive using his police handcuff before strangling her with his police belt and then burning her body.
The Everards had been forced to listen to harrowing details of how Couzens, 48, raped and strangled Sarah with his police belt after falsely arresting her for breaching Covid rules and handcuffing her arms behind her back.
He targeted marketing executive Sarah, 33, as she walked home on Clapham Common, south London, on the evening of March 3.
After killing her 80 miles away near Dover, Kent, he dumped her body in a discarded fridge on remote woodland and set it alight with petrol ‑ described by Mrs Everard as “the final insult”.
Sarah’s family’s victim impact statements were among the most moving heard at the Old Bailey.
Sarah Everard’s family leaving the Old Bailey in June
As Couzens sat, head-bowed, in the dock charity worker Mrs Everard said: “The feeling of loss is so great it is visceral. And with the sorrow comes 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’s mother, who also has a son, told Couzens: “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.”
Mr Everard, an electronics professor at the University of York, demanded Couzens face him to hear him say: “No punishment that you receive will ever compare to the pain and torture that you have inflicted on us.
“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.”
Court artist sketch of Wayne Couzens
Asking for a cherished photo of Sarah to be shown on the court’s big screen, he turned to the killer and, in a calm, firm voice, said: “Mr Couzens, will you look at me?”
The ex-Metropolitan Police officer lifted his head slightly, but refused to make eye contact as Mr Everard continued: “You murdered our daughter and forever broke the hearts of her mother, father, brother, sister, family and her friend.
“The family is tormented by Sarah’s horrific final moments. The impact of what you have done will never end.
“A father wants to look after his children and fix everything and you have deliberately and with premeditation stopped my ability to do that.
“Sarah was handcuffed and unable to defend herself. This preys on my mind all the time.”
Mrs Everard said: “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.”
Calling Couzens, of Deal, Kent, a monster and a predator, Katie told him: “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.
“There were so many things I wanted to share with her ‑ trips abroad, being each other’s bridesmaid, meeting her babies and being an auntie, growing old together and seeing who got the most wrinkles.
“We weren’t even halfway through our journey and you took it all away.”
Court artist sketch of prosecutor Tom Little QC
The two-day sentencing hearing was told Couzens had prowled west and south London in a hire car, hunting for a lone young woman to kidnap and rape.
He spotted Sarah walking to her home in Brixton Hill, pulled up, showed her his warrant card and claimed he was on an undercover Covid patrol.
Couzens burned Sarah’s body in a stinking field strewn with abandoned cars, fridges and mountains of garbage, Tom Little QC said.
DNA tests confirmed she had been raped by the police officer. Couzens had hired a new Vauxhall Crossland car as his own Seat estate was filthy inside and would not pass for a police undercover car.
He has still not said when and where he raped and killed Sarah but police believe he drove her to Dover before transferring her to the Seat, where he attacked her.
Police examined 1,800 hours of CCTV footage from cars, buses, private houses and other security cameras. The breakthrough came on March 9, six days after the kidnap, when camera footage from a bus showed Sarah and Couzens standing by the killer’s hire car.
Number plate checks led officers to the hire car firm in Dover ‑ crucially, Couzens used his own credit card and mobile phone number.
When arrested, Couzens first denied ever meeting Sarah. Then he admitted abducting her and said he had been “leant on” by a gang to kidnap girls and hand them over.
Couzens was caught on CCTV abducting Sarah Everard
Mr Little told the court five, chilling words summed up what Couzens did to Sarah: “Deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation, fire.”
Sarah’s kidnap prompted one of the most publicised police investigations in history and also ignited a passionate debate about the safety of women that is still raging.
Mr Little asked the judge, Lord Justice Fulford, to consider imposing a whole life order on Couzens when he is sentenced today.
Wayne Couzens burned Sarah Everard’s body in a refrigerator