Warning: This article discusses assault, rape and violence against women
The man who killed Sarah Everard, Wayne Couzens will spend the rest of his life in prison. At the sentencing yesterday, the 48-year-old former police officer didn’t even have the decency to look up as the judge read out the order.
It was the most severe sentencing Couzens could have received for his crime—yet still, it will never bring justice to Sarah or her family.
Per the court proceedings, it was devastatingly revealed that Couzins had falsely arrested Sarah while she walked home from a friends house in South London. He handcuffed her on the street before ordering her into a car he had hired.
Witnesses described seeing the event play out, believing that Sarah had done something wrong and therefore not raising an alarm.
Couzens then drove south of London where he raped Sarah, strangled her then burned her body. Her remains were found in Ashford, Kent about a week after she was last seen alive.
The shocking, abhorrent crime shook the world to its core. An outpouring of anger, disgust and subsequent protests from women and female allies across the world followed. Vigils for Sarah were held, her face became the image of a heartbreaking reality for women everywhere. For those who walk with keys between their knuckles “just in case”, those who are told to “not be alone on the streets alone after dark”, and those forced to face the truth that these situations are so real, and so devastatingly common.
Sarah’s mother, Susan Everard shared a Victim Impact Statement at the sentencing, her words enough to silence us all as she pointed out the unjustness of her daughter’s fate.
“Sarah is gone and I am broken-hearted. She was my precious little girl, our youngest child,” she began.
“The feeling of loss is so great it is visceral. And with the sorrow come 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 died in horrendous circumstances. I am tormented at the thought of what she endured.”
Susan continued: “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 cannot comprehend it. 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.”
Susan spoke of the horrors that Sarah endured and how they continue to haunt her: “In the morning I wake up to the awful reality that Sarah is gone. In the evenings, at the time she was abducted, I let out a silent scream: ‘Don’t get in the car, Sarah. Don’t believe him. Run!’.”
She added: “I am repulsed by the thought of Wayne Couzens and what he did to Sarah. I am outraged that he masqueraded as a policeman in order to get what he wanted.
“Sarah wanted to get married and have children, now all that has gone. He took her life and stole her future and we will never have the joy of sharing that future with her. Each day dawns and I think, Sarah should be here, leading her life and embracing new experiences. She had so many years ahead of her.”
Her final words echoed across the room, and across countless social media platforms in the moments after she finished reading the statement: “The other night, I dreamt that Sarah appeared at home. In my dream I held her and could feel her physically. Jeremy was there, we were comforting her, saying: ‘It’s alright Sarah, it’s alright’.
“I would give anything to hold her once more; I hope I dream that dream again.”