Wayne Couzens, 48, was a Metropolitan Police officer when he used his position to ‘arrest’ and kidnap Ms Everard as she returned home in Clapham, south London on the evening of the 3 March.
He had left a 12-hour shift that morning, when he raped and killed the 33-year-old marketing executive – whose death sparked outrage and protests over rates of violence against women – before to set his body on fire.
Conviction of Wayne Couzens – follow live updates
Opening a two-day sentencing hearing at the Old Bailey, prosecutor Tom Little QC said Couzens’ crimes could be summed up in five words: “Deception, kidnapping, rape, strangulation, arson. “
Couzens took Ms Everad’s cell phone and threw it in a river in Sandwich, Kent, hours after killing her, and a broken fragment of an EE SIM card from the phone was later found in his car, the court heard.
“He must have taken it off the phone and tried to destroy it, having taken his phone from him,” Mr. Little said.
Ms Everard had broken coronavirus regulations by visiting a friend for dinner at Clapham Junction during the third nationwide lockdown and was on her way back to Brixton when she was ‘arrested’ by Couzens.
Couzens, then a diplomatic protection officer on duty with the Metropolitan Police, handcuffed her around 9:34 p.m. after showing her her warrant card, the court said.
Ms Everard was described by a longtime ex-boyfriend as “extremely intelligent, savvy and savvy” and “not a gullible person” that he might consider getting into a car with a stranger “except by force or manipulation. “.
Mr Little said Couzens was familiar with coronavirus regulations, so he would have known what language to use for those who may have broken them.
Couzens allegedly wore his police belt with handcuffs and a rectangular black pouch, similar to a pepper spray rack, when he kidnapped Ms Everard.
He put it in the back of a Vauxhall Astra – hired in Dover with his personal details and bank card – around 9:37 p.m.
The married father of two then left for Kent, 80 miles away, a minute later. At around 11:30 p.m. Ms Everard was transferred from the rental car to Couzen’s own Seat car, which was left in a non-residential area of Dover.
The kidnapping lasted less than five minutes in total.
Couzens then traveled to a remote rural area northwest of Dover that he knew well where he had parked and raped Ms Everard, Old Bailey was told.
The Seat car was picked up by an ANPR camera on a Dover road at 2:31 a.m. According to Mr. Little, “This is where Sarah Everard is most likely to have been murdered.”
The moment Couzens confronted Ms Everard in south London was caught on security footage and seen by a couple traveling by car.
She was a mile and a half from her home when cameras from two buses, a garbage truck and a marked police car caught footage of Couzens talking to Ms Everard near the car, which was parked on the sidewalk with its hazard lights on and the doors open.
The passenger in the vehicle said she saw Couzens and Ms. Everard standing on the sidewalk. She watched Ms Everard be handcuffed, Mr Little told court.
“Sarah Everard was compliant with her head down and didn’t seem to be arguing,” he said.
Mr. Little added that the passenger believed she witnessed an undercover police officer arresting a woman who she said “must have done something wrong”.
She pointed out to her husband that she had seen “a woman being handcuffed” when “they were actually witnessing the kidnapping of Sarah Everard,” Mr. Little said.
Couzens, who the court heard was thousands of pounds in debt, wiped his phone minutes before he was arrested at his home in Deal on March 9.
The next day, a week after Ms Everard went missing, her body was found in a stream in Ashford, Kent, a few yards from land owned by Couzens.
Fragments of his clothes were found in a nearby forest, where his body had been burned.
Mr Little said that while Couzens was in the woods he had to “move Sarah Everard’s heavily burned body from where it had been set on fire, to the pond where she was found by more ”using the bags he bought at B&Q.
In July, Couzens pleaded guilty to the murder, kidnapping and rape of Ms. Everard via video link from prison.
The court heard how Couzens would wear his police belt and handcuffs off duty and that he had a profile on Match.com, in which he gave various false details about himself. He was also in contact with an escort through an escort service.
The police watchdog received a series of referrals relating to the Couzens case, with 12 police officers under investigation.
A senior investigator into Sarah Everard’s case, former DCI Simon Harding, told Sky News officers “Don’t look at” Couzens like a policeman and he “should never have been near a uniform.”
Speaking at the Old Bailey in July, Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said she was “very sorry” for the loss, pain and suffering of the Everard family.
She said: “All of us at the Met are sickened, angry and devastated by this man’s truly horrific crimes. Everyone in the police feels betrayed. “
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it was investigating whether the Met had not investigated two allegations of indecent exposure involving Couzens in February, just days before the murder.
Kent Police are also under investigation into their response to a third 2015 indecent assault allegation.
Ahead of Wednesday’s hearing, a Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “We are sickened, angry and devastated by the crimes of this man who betray everything we stand for.
“Our hearts go out to Sarah’s family and her many friends. It is not possible for us to imagine what they are going through.
“We recognize that his actions raise many questions and concerns, but we will not comment further until the end of the hearing. ”