A London Metropolitan Police officer has been sentenced to life in prison without parole after pleading guilty in July to the murder of Sarah Everard, whose disappearance and death in March sparked nationwide grief and outrage.
Wayne Couzens confessed to abducting Everard on the evening of March 3, 2021, during a 50-minute walk home from her friend’s house in south London. Prosecutors said he falsely accused her of violating COVID-19 restrictions to lure her into his car.
Everard’s body was discovered a week later near Ashford in County Kent, about 90 kilometers southeast of London.
Following Couzen’s sentencing Thursday, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick told reporters she was “absolutely horrified” Couzens used his position as a police officer to deceive and coerce Everard into his vehicle. She said his actions were “a gross betrayal of everything policing stands for.”
She said she knows for some, the bond of trust in the police has been damaged, but she pledged the police department’s dedication to the public remains undiminished.
Sarah Everard’s disappearance caused a nationwide outcry in Britain, with thousands expressing grief and anger regarding the safety of women in London and elsewhere. Women also then began sharing experiences of being threatened or attacked - or simply facing the everyday fear of violence when walking alone.
The incident prompted British opposition Labour Party lawmaker Jess Phillips to pay tribute to the 118 women in Britain who have died at the hands of men over the last 12 months by reading their names aloud in Britain’s House of Commons.
Some information in this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.