Chief prosecutor Tom Little told the court that Couzens’ behavior was premeditated after he finished his 12-hour shift on the morning of March 4. He rented a white Vauxhall Astra car and then, hours before patrolling for a victim, drove to the nearby Tesco grocery store and bought a pack of 14 ponytail holders and duct tape.
“This is a significant purchase and one that is part of the accused’s plans,” Little told sentencing court Wednesday morning.
Couzens, a married diplomatic protection officer, then found Everard, who, Little reiterated, was “just walking home” alone that evening. Little said the two didn’t know each other before. He said Couzens arrested Everard after going to a friend’s house for dinner during the height of the 2021 COVID-19 pandemic closure in England.
Knowing that she may have circumvented the lockdown rules, she likely agreed to get in Couzens’ car after showing her her badge or identifying herself as a cop, Little said. Surveillance cameras on two passing buses and testimony indicate that Couzens handcuffed her and put her in the back of his car.
A female witness who saw Couzens detain Everard told Little that she complied “with her head down and didn’t appear to be arguing.” Little then told the sentencing court that the woman “believed she was witnessing the arrest of an undercover police officer who she said must have done something wrong,” but in reality, Little said : “They were actually witnessing the kidnapping of Sarah Everard. “
The prosecutor continued, “She was detained by fraud. The accused used his warrant card and handcuffs as well as other equipment provided by the police to make a false arrest.
He then drove her about 80 miles to a wooded area near the property he owned with his wife where he strangled, raped and killed Everard, before putting her body in a large green garbage bag and throw it into a stream.
Everard had spoken to her boyfriend on the phone for 14 minutes before Couzens arrested her and was supposed to text her friend to tell her she was safe home. When she didn’t text or answer calls, the friend and her boyfriend searched for her at home before reporting her missing. A manhunt ensues and his body is found six days after his disappearance.
During the manhunt, the police were able to identify Couzens as the last person to see her. When questioned, he made up a whimsical story, telling detectives – his colleagues – that he had had a hard time and owed money to a gang of Eastern Europeans or to “a girl” after having under- paid a prostitute they supported. He admitted to taking Everard but said he handed her to three men in a van and had no idea what happened next.
But detectives found a broken piece of Everard’s phone SIM embedded in the rental car’s carpet and determined from her own cell phone data that he had been present with her in the forest. His bewildered wife told investigators he was not a violent man and acted “completely normal” in the days following the heinous crime.
He did not cooperate with the investigation but pleaded guilty to the charges carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, which in the UK could still mean he is eligible for a parole unless the court decides he must spend the rest of his life in prison. . The sentence is expected Thursday.
The Everard murder sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and an increase in violence and harassment against women in the UK, particularly against women walking alone.