Wayne Couzens sentencing: How Sarah Everard's 'sickening' kidnap, rape and murder unfolded

·7 min read

A court has heard harrowing details surrounding the final hours of Sarah Everard, before she was raped, murdered and then burned by former Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens.

Ms Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive from Surrey, was abducted by the then-serving officer on 3 March while walking home from a friend's house in south London.

The court was told by prosecutors that Couzens' horrifying actions could be summed up in five words: "Deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation, fire".

As Couzens prepares to find out whether he will face life behind bars, here is how the events of the night are believe to have unfolded and what happened during the days following her murder before her body was found on 10 March, near Couzens' home in Kent. 

Sarah Everard and Wayne Couzens (PA)
Sarah Everard and Wayne Couzens (PA)

March 2: At 7pm, Couzens starts a 12-hour overnight shift at the US Embassy, south-west London. During the shift, Couzens talks about leaving the Met over a pay dispute and says he might go off sick with stress.

Couzens was in debt to the tune of £29,000, using short-term payday loans, and was in a dispute with the Met over his pay scale.

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.

Artist impression of Wayne Couzens with his head bowed during the sentencing hearing at the Old Bailey, London. (Julia Quenzler/SWNS)
Artist impression of Wayne Couzens with his head bowed during the sentencing hearing at the Old Bailey, London. (Julia Quenzler/SWNS)

4.45pm – Couzens collects a hire car that he had booked the previous month. He also purchased a roll of self-adhesive film advertised as a carpet protector on Amazon. 

Prosecutor Tom Little told the court on Wednesday that Couzens' movements were consistent with the defendant looking for – or hunting for – a lone young female to kidnap and rape.

9pm – Ms Everard leaves to walk home, some 2.5 miles away.

9.13pm – She calls her boyfriend for a little over 14 minutes.

Watch: Cressida Dick says Met are 'sickened' by Couzens' crimes

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 of a marked police car.

9.34pm – Couzens handcuffs Ms Everard using handcuffs he purchased on Amazon. It is not quite clear how Couzens was able to 'apprehend' her. 

The prosecution has said that Couzens had worked on uniformed COVID patrols in late January to enforce coronavirus regulations, so would have known what language to use to those who may have breached them.

CCTV footage played in court shows Couzens raising his left arm, holding a warrant card, before handcuffing Ms Everard and putting her into the back of the car.

A passing couple witnessed the kidnapping but mistook it for an arrest by an undercover officer, the court heard.

“They were in fact witnessing the kidnapping of Sarah Everard,” the prosecution told the court.

Couzens is thought to have been wearing his police belt with handcuffs and a rectangular black pouch, similar to a pepper spray holder.

(Yahoo News)
(Yahoo News)

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.

9.36pm – Couzens puts Ms Everard into the back of his car.

9.38pm – Another bus camera captures the same vehicle with the two front car doors open.

11.30pm – CCTV shows Couzen's hire vehicle in Dover shortly after 11.30pm as he transfers his victim to his own car. It is believed Couzens then dove to a remote rural area north-west of Dover which he knew well where he parked up and raped Ms Everard.

March 4: 1am – Having travelled out of London, the car is seen in the Tilmanstone area of Kent.

2.31am – Couzens is believed to have murdered Ms Everard around this time.

8.15am - Couzens is captured on CCTV in a Costa Coffee shop in Dover buying a hot chocolate and bakewell tart. 

8.30am – The killer returns the hire car used in the abduction.

That morning, Couzens is thought to have thrown Ms Everard’s mobile phone into a channel at Sandwich, only for it to be later retrieved by a diver as part of a search of the waterway.

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 8 March, reports to work that he is suffering with stress.

It is believed Couzens buys the petrol on this day before burning her body at around 12.45pm in Hoad's Wood, Kent. A witness sees the flames.

Undated handout photo issued by Metropolitan Police of Sarah Everard. Senior police say they have been left shocked and disturbed after the arrest of a serving officer in connection with the disappearance of Sarah Issue date: Wednesday March 10, 2021.
Sarah Everard was reported missing on 3 March. (Handout/PA)

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 7: Couzens takes his wife and two children on a family trip to the woods where only days before he had burned Ms Everard’s body.

En route, he withdraws cash from the same service station he had been to shortly after raping and murdering his victim.

Police vehicles at the scene where human remains, that have been identified as that of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, were found hidden in woodland in Ashford, Kent. The Met Police announced on Wednesday that the diplomatic protection officer held over the disappearance of Sarah Everard has been arrested on suspicion of murder. Picture date: Friday March 12, 2021.
Police vehicles at the scene where human remains, that have been identified as that of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, were found hidden in woodland in Ashford, Kent. (PA)

Couzens allows his children to play near where Ms Everard's body had been dumped in the pond.

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.

A lady lays flowers near the scene in Ashford, Kent, after a body found hidden in nearby woodland was identified as that of 33-year-old Sarah Everard. Serving police constable Wayne Couzens, 48, appeared in court on Saturday charged with kidnapping and murdering the 33-year-old marketing executive, who went missing while walking home from a friend's flat in south London on March 3. Picture date: Sunday March 14, 2021.
A lady lays flowers near the scene in Ashford, Kent, after a body found hidden in nearby woodland was identified as that of 33-year-old Sarah Everard. (PA)

March 12: Couzens is charged.

March 13: Police clash with mourners at a vigil for Ms Everard on Clapham Common. The force had banned the vigil on the grounds that it broke coronavirus regulations. However, hundreds of women pay their respects regardless. Several mourners are arrested by police.

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.

File photo dated 13/3/2021 of people in the crowd turn on their phone torches as they gather in Clapham Common, London, for a vigil for Sarah Everard. Former Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, will appear at the Old Bailey in London, on the first day of a two-day sentence hearing after pleading guilty to the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard. Issue date: Wednesday September 29, 2021.
People in the crowd turn on their phone torches as they gather in Clapham Common, London, for a vigil for Sarah Everard. (PA)

The Met Police have been criticised for failing to spot warning signs surrounding Couzens prior to Ms Everard's murder.

In 2015, Couzens was accused of indecent exposure by a woman while serving as an officer in the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC). 

It is alleged that Kent Police failed to investigate the incident. In the wake of Ms Everard's murder, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has launched a probe into whether the allegation of indecent exposure were investigated properly.

In February 2021, Couzens was also linked linked to two allegations of indecent exposure in London, which it is claimed Scotland Yard failed to investigate. 

Two police officers are currently being investigated for misconduct due to the alleged incident.

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